Saturday, November 9, 2013

Could the Future of Scanning be a Top Down Approach?

Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600. A new
"top scanning" design. $895
The direction of document scanning in the future may be top down. Literally. Four years ago, a company in San Diego, CA named Pathway Innovations & Technologies, Inc. developed the first "top scanner", a device in which the camera is on a stand and points down at a document, whereas traditional scanners incorporate a camera beneath a glass platen. The traditional flatbed scanner is slow. The "top scanner" is fast, scanning a page in less than one second. And, with top scanning, there are no paper jams and no ripping of paper. As the resolution of "top scanners" made by Pathway, which it calls The HoverCam, have improved, so has the quality of the scans. The company has been awarded both a U.S. design patent and a utility patent for the HoverCam invention. Although annual sales are still relatively small at less than $10 million a year, Pathway is a young, emerging company and is growing. What's interesting is that the top down scanning approach was recently validated by Fujitsu, the 800 lbs. gorilla of the scanning market, which introduced its own top scanner model called the ScanSnap SV600.  The Fujitsu model's main purpose is scanning, and, it's not cheap, with a $895 price tag. By comparison, the HoverCam Solo 5x (and the soon to be released Solo 8) model is more than a scanner; it's also a document camera used to show images during live presentations and training sessions. In addition, the HoverCam Solo 5x document camera is also a HD high-definition web conferencing camera, a video camera that records video and voice with its built-in microphone, and has a flexible camera head so that it can be pointed in any direction and used as a USB camera. And, HoverCam has come to market with portable version of the top down scanner - the HoverCam Mini - so small it weighs less than 6 oz and fits in your pocket or evening purse. (In April, 2014 HoverCam will release the Solo 8, the world's first 8-megapixel, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera with up to 4K resolution and a refresh rate of full motion 30 frames per second video.)
HoverCam Mini 5 document
camera and scanner. It scans, records
video, takes snap shots and is an
HD webcam. $249

The shape of scanning in the future could be top down, with Fujitsu and HoverCam leading the way with the new "top scanner" approach. Office products retailers such as OfficeDepotStaples and OfficeMax have shown interest in the new concept and have picked up the HoverCam products. In Fujitsu's marketing video of the SV600, the scanning giant fired a direct competitive shot at the HoverCam design, validating the top scanning approach. If Pathway Innovations and its HoverCam are able to do to the scanning market what they did to Elmo Manufacturing Corp. in the document camera market for education -- in which HoverCam was disruptive with its patented new approach selling over 100,000 units in less than 3 years to schools-- then be on the lookout for changes in the future of scanning.

(About the author: Craig Justice is VP of Sales for Pathway Innovations, maker of The HoverCam.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Must Have Tool for "Back to School"

The HoverCam T3. The first
high-resolution document camera
that changed everything.
 A high-quality document camera is a must-have tool for any classroom teacher.

HoverCam, the technology leader in USB document cameras for schools, changed everything with the introduction of the T3, the world’s first USB document camera with high resolution, a fraction of the size and fraction of the cost of traditional document cameras. More than just a document camera, the HoverCam T3 is also a scanner, grading machine, video recorder and high-resolution web camera. Talk to teachers who have one and you can sense their passion for the HoverCam and all it does.

Over 100,000 HoverCam T3s (priced at $219) are in use at schools across the country. The company offers a newer model called Solo 5 which includes all the features of the T3 but is 5-megapixels, has a fully rotating camera head and is priced at $299.

Scan Right At Your Desk
HoverCam includes software for scanning and managing scanned images. Scan pages from a book, newspaper, magazine, kids’ homework. Use the motion sensor to scan multiple pages into one PDF file. Convert and stack scanned JPEG images into PDF. Email scanned images, post them to your website, organize them in folders or save them to Dropbox or Evernote. With the HoverCam, you’re getting more than a document camera. You’re also getting a scanner. No more trips to the school’s administration office to scan. Now, scan right at your desk.
HoverCam's Solo 5 features
a rotating camera head, giving it more versatility
when recording video. $299

Create Instructional Videos for Flipped Learning
The HoverCam includes a built-in microphone. Use the HoverCam’s software to conveniently record HD quality video with audio directly to your computer’s hard drive. With the HoverCam, it’s easy to create your own instructional videos for the flipped classroom. Upload videos you record to your website, Evernote, Dropbox, YouTube, Facebook or Picasa or email them. With HoverCam’s software, it’s easy to share files with students.

Save Time Grading Tests
Use the HoverCam you teach with to also grade tests. The HoverCam includes a free, one-year license of GradeCentral, a software program for creating and grading multiple choice quizzes and tests.  After students complete the test, place the tests under the HoverCam camera to scan them and record the grade in seconds. This will save you time grading. Data and test scores captured with GradeCentral software may be saved as a CSV file and shared with your school’s grading system.

Save Desk Space
The HoverCam has a small foot-print (less than 4” diameter) compared to traditional document cameras and doesn’t take up much desk space.  It’s always available to make a quick scan or use to present to class.  When not in use, the HoverCam may be “telescoped” or folded into a flat position to easily put away in a drawer or carried to another classroom. Because the HoverCam is USB powered, it’s easy and fast to set up and start using.

Striking Picture Quality
Expect superb image clarity from the HoverCam when compared to document cameras three times the cost. The HoverCam allows you to zoom in and out in real time with the spin of the mouse wheel. Combined with the ability to click and drag the image as needed, you have maximum versatility when presenting and teaching. It’s a great way to show worksheets, book pages, and even your iPad or tablet screen.

Industry Leading HoverCam Flex Software
HoverCam Flex is regarded as the best software of any document camera. It allows you to scan, record video, manage and share files. Whether you’re recording a “flipped classroom” video lesson or dropping a scanned image into a PowerPoint presentation, HoverCam Flex makes it easy. It even works with interactive whiteboards, allowing you to easily show captured images and live video on your interactive board. And, the software is embedded inside the unit, making it easy to install anywhere without having to download from the Internet or find a misplaced CD.

HoverCam Flex Software Features Include:
  • Audio and Video Recording
  • Screen Capture
  • Annotation
  • Picture-in-Picture (with the webcam on your computer)
  • Interactive Whiteboard Integration
  • Image Rotation
  • Auto White Balance, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Freeze Frame
  • Zoom and Scroll
  • Archive Manager
  • Drag-and-Drop Images or Videos
  • Time-Lapse Photography
  • Motion Triggered Scanning
  • Video Conferencing (with HoverCam Connect)
  • Compatibility with Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx
  • Image stacking, conversion to PDF, and more
Improve Distance Learning & Remote Conferencing
The HoverCam image appears in a window on your computer screen, which means high resolution images of documents and objects can easily be viewed during remote conferences and distance learning sessions with Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx and other web conferencing programs in “screen sharing” mode. In addition, the HoverCam includes HoverCam Connect, a beta software feature that allows two HoverCam users at remote locations to share each other’s viewing screens over the Internet. The HoverCam provides much sharper, clearer images during remote conferencing than using a typical low-resolution webcam.

LED Lighting That Never Needs Changing
Have a dark room? No problem. The HoverCam camera works well in low lighting, and if your room is completely dark, the unit incorporates long-lasting LED lights. For the price of the replacement bulb of a traditional document camera, you could simply buy a HoverCam.
Engineering Masterpiece
The HoverCam was cleverly designed to leverage the processing power of the computer to zoom and control most functions, so the HoverCam doesn’t incorporate the large and expensive optical parts found in traditional document cameras. The result is a new form factor that’s compact, portable, durable and affordable. Moreover, with HoverCam’s strength as a software developer, the HoverCam software allows you to scan, record voice & video, remote conference and manage files which is why the T3 is so much more than just a “document camera."

For Mac & PC Users
HoverCam is compatible with Macs and PCs. Included with each HoverCam camera are:  1.3 meter USB cable, positioning mat, carrying pouch, HoverCam Flex Software and a one year free license of HoverCam’s GradeCentral grading software. 

For additional information about the HoverCam and to find out more about the company’s test-drive free-evaluation program for schools, please contact or tel (858) 750-3499.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Full Circle With USA TODAY

The USA TODAY was first published the year after I graduated from college. I was excited about it because one of our university's visiting instructors John Seigenthaler, publisher of the Nashville Tennessean at that time and a member of the Gannet family of newspapers, was the USA TODAY's first Editorial Page Editor. I also liked the concept of taking the headline news from each state, and laying that out in a full page spread. I had an inspired idea to see the same thing done for international news--a country by country news summary--and even applied for a position at the paper.

Review of HoverCam Mini, May 1,
2013 USA TODAY. We even shared
the stage with Mel Brooks &
Carl Reiner.
Although I never worked at "the nation's newspaper" it has always held a special place in my conscience, and each time I see the paper on display or pick up a copy to read I pause to give thanks to John Seigenthaler, who was such an inspiring, thoughtful guest lecturer and seminar leader on Duke University's campus, and to Professor Bruce L. Payne of Duke's Public Policy School, who organized the course on "Public Policy & The Media" and lured John to campus to share his experiences and wisdom. Bruce clearly deserved the "Teacher of the Year" award he received soon after.

We recently launched a new product (the HoverCam Mini) at our start-up company (the HoverCam). The first significant media outlet to properly test and review our product was USA TODAY. Technology reporter Ed Baig writes: "HoverCam Mini 5 is cool."  Life doesn't get much better than that. I've come full circle with USA TODAY.

Here's Ed Baig's video review of the HoverCam. The HoverCam material appears after the sponsored ad. Glad to see that the USA TODAY is finding ways to embrace new media to extend its advertising reach to stay in business.

HoverCam: An Ideal "Document Camera" For Higher Education

HoverCam Solo 5x closed (l)
and open (r)
The HoverCam, based in San Diego, CA., makes document cameras, a product that's the modern equivalent of the obsolete overhead projector that used to be in every schoolroom and many conference rooms. Until now, almost 90% of the HoverCam's sales have been to the K-12 education market. That could change with the introduction of two new products, the desktop Solo 5x document camera and the ultraportable, pocket size HoverCam Mini 5.

The Solo 5x has unique features making it ideal for use on college campuses. Namely, its small footprint, high resolution, USB connectivity and multi-function capability including the ability to scan, video conference, record video and to present allow it to be used by college faculty numerous ways.

Here’s a list of the main features and uses on a college campus:

* Solo 5x has a small footprint -- it sits on an instructor’s desk in the office without taking up much desk space
* Scan documents and articles at the desk (without having to go to the photocopy machine down the hall)
* Use for instruction in class to show books, articles, iPad (tablet) screen – anything
* With its small footprint, the HoverCam Solo 5x doesn’t take up much space on a lectern.  It can be folded flat and easily put away
* Record instructional videos to post to a website for flipped classroom learning
* Incorporates a high-resolution, 5 mega-pixel camera, ideal for remote learning and "virtual office hours."  HoverCam works with Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx, Skype to show clear images during video and web conferences
* Take the HoverCam Mini 5 (the pocket-size version of HoverCam) to the library or on the road to scan multiple pages quickly and accurately. Ideal for scanning archive documents, rare books and other precious resources that may not be removed from the library.
* The HoverCam Solo 5x costs only $299 and the ultraportable HoverCam Mini $249, making either affordable for every instructor on campus to have their own HoverCam camera-scanner.

For additional information, please visit the HoverCam website at: and

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The New Retail Package For The HoverCam Mini Has Arrived!

Here's the new retail package for the HoverCam Mini 5 camera-scanner. Click the video to see how the package flap opens. The Mini is the perfect tool for scanning multiple documents on the go. Not just a scanner, the multi-functional device is also a camera, video camera, high-resolution webcam and a document camera. It includes software for scanning business cards and allows direct upload of scans and video to Evernote (a great way to organize ideas), Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube and more. It fits in your pocket or bag and costs $249. For more information, please visit the HoverCam website:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Which Document Camera Is Most Portable? Your Choice.

It was late in the day after another record day of HoverCam sales and Neil pulled out his new phone to show off. Ji shoe-d us his phone and then Art showed us the HoverCam Mini. Which is the most portable document camera and which are the pretenders? Where's the beef? Is this the new HoverPhone?

HoverCam vs. iPad Clamped to a Stand

iPad shown with an optional mount. Is
this the best way to use an iPad in class? 
Some teachers ask, "Why do I need a document camera when I have an iPad?" True, you could clamp or mount an iPad to a stand, much as the one shown in the image. But is this the best use for an iPad, and, is it cost effective for the school?

The traditional document camera - made famous by a company called Elmo - is a dinosaur. In fact, Samsung - one of the leaders - has announced it's quitting the document camera business. But, a San Diego based company called Pathway Innovations has come out with a device called a "HoverCam" which has "reinvented" this stodgy product category. The HoverCam Solo 8 is the world's first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 "teaching camera" with 8 megapixel resolution and full-motion, 30 frame/sec speed over USB. Which means teachers can record full-motion HD video directly to their computer, and share it with students and parents. Calling the HoverCam a "document camera" doesn't do it justice, because it does so much more.

Why is the HoverCam Solo 8 an alternative to an iPad on a stand?

      HoverCam Advantages vs. iPad Clamped To a Stand

      * HoverCam is designed to be used as a document camera for classroom use. It is rugged and includes a stand and a lamp. The total cost for HoverCam’s flagship model Solo 8 is $349.

·       * iPad ($499) + optional stand ($50 - $99) is over $550, over $200 more than the cost of the HoverCam Solo 8.

·       * The iPad is designed to be used as a hand-held, portable tablet.  It’s best used that way.  By fastening it to a stand (making it stationary) the iPad’s functionality - and mobility -  is restricted. A school wastes money purchasing an iPad and tying it down as a document camera. If a teacher's iPad is clamped to a stand how are they going to bring the tablet to the other side of the room? Time will be lost unclamping it.

·        * The HoverCam’s camera head is moveable – the camera can be quickly pointed in any direction when recording video, or showing live images. Fastening an iPad to a stand makes the iPad’ s camera less flexible. As a video camera, the HoverCam is more versatile than the iPad and an optional stand.

·       *  HoverCam Solo 8 includes LED lights so it can be used in a darkened classroom.

·       *  If you drop the HoverCam on a hard floor, it’s likely to keep working.  If you drop an iPad on a solid floor, it could break.

·        * The HoverCam has a small profile, even when showing a double-sided, A3 size book.  The iPad + stand combination, as shown above, could block the view of some students.

·        *  The HoverCam – with its fast refresh rate and true 8 megapixel resolution – is a great way to show and train students how to use iPad apps. By placing an iPad under the HoverCam students can see the teacher’s hand movements and learn faster. The Solo 8 can be used to record an instructional video of how to use an app, which can be easily uploaded to a teacher's website.

      The ideal classroom would include both HoverCams and iPads working together. This can be accomplished with Splashtop software, which allows streaming of a HoverCam image to an iPad or tablet anywhere in the room, which increases mobility.

The HoverCam Solo 8 is a multifunctional scanner, document camera, video recorder and grading machine for classroom instruction, & corporate training, presentations, scanning and flipped learning. It can also be used as a USB 3.0 webcam for distance learning and virtual field trips.

(Note - this post was updated December, 2014)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

退一步,海阔天空. Why Not Take a Step Back?

My colleague Ji Shen, Founder and CEO of The HoverCam who is originally from China, just shared we me words of wisdom: 退一步,海阔天空。 Tui Yi Bu, Hai Kuo Tian Kong. It means, roughly: "Take a step back, and the sky opens before you."  Often in business - especially in "start-up" mode, we tend to charge ahead in our work, sometimes getting stuck in a rut. Instead of plowing forward, why not take a step back? New options, new paths as wide as the sea and sky will appear. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

How To Use HoverCam With An iPad

I’m often asked, “How can I use the HoverCam with the iPad?”

Here are some ways to get the most out of your tablet and your document camera.

The HoverCam is a great
way to show images on an
iPad and train how to use apps.
First, the HoverCam is an excellent way to show a large screen image of a tablet (or smartphone) screen.  Just put the tablet underneath the HoverCam, and the high resolution, true 5-megapixel sensor of the HoverCam Solo 5 displays the tablet screen crystal clear. The advantage of showing the tablet screen this way is the audience (or class) can easily follow the instructor’s hand movements, making it easier to comprehend how the teacher is using the tablet.  And with the Solo 5 being the world’s fastest 5-megapixel USB document camera, there’s not much blurring (and less blurring than there would be with high-resolution USB document cameras from other manufacturers).

If you’d like to use the iPad to control a HoverCam, a great way to do that is with an app called Splashtop, which allows you to control your computer screen with the iPad.  With the HoverCam attached to your computer and with Splashtop installed on your iPad you can control all HoverCam functions with the iPad. The camera images can be simultaneously seen on the iPad, the computer and the projector and you can annotate and manipulate the HoverCam image with the iPad.  Splashtop also has an app to turn the iPad into an “interactive” tablet / whiteboard.  Our technical service department has thoroughly tested Splashtop. The application installs easily and works perfectly.  We recommend it.  (Of course Android tablets such as LearnPad that are Splashtop compatible also work well with HoverCam.)

We occasionally run into a person who says, “I don’t need a document camera.  My tablet has a camera.”  We believe – as do our customers – that both products can co-exist in the classroom.  A blogpost next week will explain why.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sweden To The HoverCam: "Det Ar Bra!"

My favorite things about Sweden are herring, midnight sun, cross country skiing and the teachers.
Each year in January we attend a conference called BETT, which is not just the largest education technology trade show in Britain, but all of Europe. And one of my favorite things about BETT is the Swedish teachers, almost 4,000 of them, who travel to warm winter London to see our products.
Our European Sales Manager, Anders Wik, is from Gothenburg and with “Gotteborg Humor” entertains the Swedish visitors to our trade show booth with tales about our products. It’s good fun and by the end of the 4-day exposition I’ve heard his
Anders setting up the HoverCam booth
at BETT in the UK, January 2013.
spiel so many times I’m speaking Swedish.
  This week, we will launch the HoverCam Mini 5, the world’s smallest document camera, in Sweden at SETT, Scandinavia’s largest education technology conference.
SETT is an acronym for Scandinavian Educational Technology Transformation. This is the 2nd year for the conference, which attracted 4,500 teachers, ICT (Interactive Communications Technology) instructors and school administrators from 3 countries last year.
The goals for the conference are to introduce new digital technologies to the classroom to increase student achievement.
According to HoverCam’s Swedish resellers, the Mini is ideal for teachers who instruct at multiple schools, because it weighs less than 250 grams. The HoverCam Mini allows instructors to scan paper documents, and also to capture images with the camera that can be shown on interactive whiteboards in class.
“Many teachers are using the HoverCam to create instructional videos,” says Anders.
The HoverCam Mini 5 will be displayed at SETT by the Swedish instructional technology integrators AV Huset and ITM, which will highlight how HoverCam can be used by teachers as an instructional technology tool. (One of the highlights of BETT – the UK show – is meeting up with AV Huset and ITM on the streets of London for a concert, samplings of British ale and good stories.)
HoverCam’s products will also be showcased by two companies highlighting the HoverCam’s capability to work with OCR (optical character recognition) software, ICAP and Svensk Talteknologi.  OCR software allows text from book pages scanned with the HoverCam to be converted from text to speech, which is useful for students with visual impairments. The scan quality of the HoverCam works well with OCR software.
“The HoverCam is user friendly,” says Anders. “The software is in Swedish and easy to install since it is embedded in the unit,” he said. HoverCam products appeal to teachers in Sweden, Norway and Denmark because of the good video quality, ergonomic design and multi-functionality. “Each HoverCam is also a scanner and a video recorder,” says Anders, “And it’s affordable for schools.”
HoverCam products were first introduced to North America in 2010, where 100,000 HoverCam units have been installed in schools. We began working with Anders and  exporting HoverCams to Sweden in May, 2011.

This is how I sound after speaking Swedish for 4 days. (Full disclosure: I hired a Swede to play the part of me in the video.)

For additional information about the HoverCam in Sweden, please visit the company’s Swedish website For additional information about the SETT Conference, which runs April 17 – 18 please visit For additional information about HoverCam products in North America please visit or email

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HoverCam Allows Any Teacher To "Flip" The Classroom & Create Flipped Videos

The success of the Khan Academy and the use of online recorded videos to demonstrate problem solving which students can access at any time is turning classrooms upside down.

Welcome to the world of "flipped learning" where the teacher's job is not to lecture and pontificate, but to coach, made possible by the high-speed web which hosts a world of instructional videos and education content. The concept of a flipped classroom is where students learn the concepts online at their pace (easily repeating when necessary) and the role of the teacher in class is to answer questions students couldn't figure out on their own.

Khan Academy and Internet searches will yield many results on how to solve specific types of exercises, but for those times when teachers feel compelled to create and post their own content online, what's the easiest way to create a high-quality instructional video? If the teacher doesn't have a stand or tripod for the smartphone, tablet or camera, attempting to make a recording by placing a device on a stack or books (or something more unstable) puts the device at risk.  And, where to find a special stand (with a clamp) that would hold a camera positioned over paper pointing down?

The HoverCam offers an easy solution. Essentially, a HoverCam is a high-resolution camera on a stick with software that allows recording in high-definition HD video.  Here's how it works.  The instructor plugs the HoverCam "document camera" into the USB port of a computer and launches the software. Next step is to position the paper or instructional materials directly under the camera and make sure everything is lined up. Then, press the record button in the software and the video is recorded directly to the computer's hard drive.  Because the HoverCam has a microphone, sound is also recorded. Viola, instant video on the computer which can be posted using HoverCam's software to a website, attached to an email, inserted into a PowerPoint and uploaded to Dropbox, Evernote, YouTube and other cloud services.

In addition to recording flipped videos, the HoverCam can also be used as a "document camera" to show live images of papers and solid objects to the class; used as a scanner to scan & file multiple documents or student assignments; used as a high-resolution webcam for distance learning and Skype; and used to grade tests.

Here's a step-by-step video tutorial from HoverCam's website showing how to create a flipped video for the classroom:

The HoverCam is priced right for schools with prices starting at $219 and is sold through a network of education specialist resellers throughout North America.  The company offers a free trial of its units to education institutions.  For additional information, please visit the company's website at

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Can HoverCam Get College Students To Do What Their Parents Couldn't: Clean Up Their Rooms?

HoverCam Mini combines features of
camera, camera & video camera into
one pocket size device.
How cool is scanning?

Yeah, right. LOL.

Not so fast. The HoverCam has developed this new device that combines the capabilities of a camera with a scanner. Oh, and it fits in your pocket.


So you can take it to the library and scan articles and convert the text to OCR to assist with writing research papers.  And everything you scan you can upload to your Evernote account.

What else?

HoverCam reduces the need
to carry (and keep) so many devices.
Don't be this guy.
The next day, you're making a presentation to your class and you want to show the widget you made with the 3-D printer so you pull it out and place it underneath the HoverCam for everyone to see. Your "document camera" is much sleeker than the large monster on the lectern. You zoom in and out showing the fine details of your 3-D object. And, since you've already written an app for your widget, you place your smartphone under the camera to show the class how the app works (and everyone sees the phone's screen clearly).

That's pretty cool.

There's more. When you get back to your dorm your friend texts you how to solve a wicked calculus problem so you answer not a problem and pull out your HoverCam and plug it into your computer and with Skype and the HoverCam you show your friend step-by-step how to work the problem.

About the size of a chocolate bar -
the HoverCam Mini helps students
reduce paper & organize their desk.
Later in the evening you're inspired to create a blog post and you use the HoverCam (which includes a stand) to record the video straight onto your computer's hard drive where it's easily dragged-and-dropped into the blog (and also uploaded to your Dropbox account from HoverCam's software).

Your friends stop by afterwards and you want to take a group photo. The HoverCam does that for you as well, using the timer, so that everyone is in the picture.

And best of all, see all those papers on your desk, in your drawers and on your bookshelves?  You gather them all into a pile and set the motion trigger in the HoverCam's software to take a scan two seconds after placing the paper under the camera.  So you scan, scan, scan, scan and in a matter of minutes ALL of the papers in the room have been scanned and archived in HoverCam's software and you carry the papers to the recycle bin.  Viola, instant order to the dorm room.

OK, I get it. Where do I get one?

The HoverCam Mini is available to college students from the education retailer Studica. They've got the HoverCam and hundreds of software titles and gadgets at student pricing.