Video Organizes Paper Documents

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff April 7, 2005

Researchers from the University of Washington are working to integrate the “paper” and “electronic” offices, according to a report in the Jan. 2 Technology Research News.

Researchers developed a system that uses an overhead video camera to track physical documents on a desk. The computerized system then automatically links them to appropriate electronic documents. The researchers have constructed a pair of prototypes that track paper documents and sort photos without the use of special tags, paper or marks.

Users can locate a document on the desktop using a number of search options: keywords, document appearance, or movement of the paper. The photo-sorting application allows users to sort digital photographs using printouts of the photos.

The system infers the structure of a stack of papers from video images. A user moves paper X from stack A to stack B, then moves paper Y from stack A to stack C, for example. The system parses the video into a pair of individual movements and then interprets each event to determine how the documents were reorganized.

The system can begin with a desk that is already full of documents; it will gradually index documents as a person moves them. Users can also browse desktops in remote locations by clicking and dragging on an image of the remote desk.

The system, which was presented at User Interface Software and Technology 2004 (UIST ’04), held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, October 24-27, 2004, could be ready for practical use on general desktops in three to four years, according to the researchers.

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