The ST Genie is advertised as a low cost ($1,075) device that is used to convert microfilm to computer images. It should appeal to genealogists, historians, local studies specialists, and archivists, as well as dedicated amateurs and professional researchers. Indeed, the price is lower than other microfilm scanners I have seen. I can envision a lot of genealogy societies, historical societies, museums, and others purchasing the ST Genie to digitize microfilms for use on the World Wide Web or for conversion to CD-ROM.
Most microfilm scanners are automated. The user inserts a reel of microfilm and pushes a button. An hour or two later, the process is complete: electric motors automatically advance the microfilm one image at a time, and the conversion to scanned images takes place with little or no human interaction. Several of the major genealogy and history web sites use such automated devices for their image conversion needs. Automation costs money: many of these automated scanners cost $10,000 to $100,000 or even more.
The ST Genie is non-automated: a human must sit at the device and manually advance the microfilm, frame by frame, by turning a crank on the film carrier (the microfilm reels). Each image is produced when the same human operator pushes a button, similar to a desktop scanner. The human then must wait for the scanning process to complete on each image and then examine the result on the attached computer's screen before moving on to the next image. While tedious, the constant human interaction should result in high-quality images as each image is examined before moving on to the next scan. If the image isn't very good, the human operator can always make adjustments and rescan.