Genealogists love scanners. We digitize old photographs, documents, maps, old handwritten notes, and dozens of other things that we wish to preserve in digital formats. Perhaps the most desirable scanners are book scanners, designed to quickly digitize the 100 pages or more pages found in a typical genealogy book. There are but two problems with most of the book scanners:
- They are expensive at $400 to $40,000 US, depending upon the features included and the speed of the scanning.
- Many book scanners require cutting the bindings off the books and then inserting the stacks of unbound pages into a sheet feeder that looks similar to what is found on high-speed office photocopiers.
Cutting the binding off a book is often traumatic for genealogists! Yes, I have cut bindings from modern reprints of old books without hesitation but I doubt if many genealogists will cut the binding from a book printed 100 years ago or even earlier.
A new scanner that is going into production now will solve most of these issues. Even better, it scans books, loose pages, photographs, and even small objects (coins, toys, jewelry, silverware, and more) without damaging any of the objects being digitized.
The CZUR Aura exists as an IndieGoGo project right now as the producing company is raising crowd funding financing to go into production on the new scanner. Delivery to customers who pay in advance is expected to start next month.
Actually, the CZUR Aura design isn’t all new. Scanners from other manufacturers over the years have included many of the same features. In fact, I have a HoverCam Solo 8 on my desk tight now that looks similar to the CZUR Aura. (See https://www.thehovercam.com/solo8plus/ for more information about the $350 HoverCam Solo 8.)
What makes the new CZUR Aura different from the other devices designed to scan books, documents, and more is:
1. The CZUR Aura combines several of the best features found in several competitive devices.
2. The CZUR Aura sells for a much lower price than its competitors (with an introductory price of $179 and up, depending upon the features selected).
3. The CZUR Aura includes a number of accessories at no extra charge that are extra cost or unavailable on competitive units. (I’d love to have a foot switch on my older HoverCam Solo 8 but it isn’t available at any price. In contrast, the new CZUR Aura scanners include a foot switch at no extra charge.)
4. The new CZUR Aura can scan almost anything, including a wide variety of documents and objects up to the size of A3 (29.7 x 42.0 centimeters, 11.69 x 16.53 inches). That will enable scanning of many oversized documents that will not fit into many traditional scanners made for office use.
5. The CZUR Aura is suitable for digitizing very old, delicate items that should not be digitized in any scanner that has rollers or other mechanical means of moving the item to be digitized through the scanner. Since nothing moves in the CZUR Aura, nothing is ever damaged, not even those old documents that are already falling apart from previous wear and tear.
6. The CZUR Aura scanner includes glare-free lights that are suitable for proper color reproduction. (My older, more expensive HoverCam Solo 8 has no lights at all, depending upon ambient light in the room to illuminate the item(s) being digitized. That works well on black-and-white items but color reproduction is either mediocre or else I have to provide (expensive) lighting that will reproduce colors properly. Actually, I for color scanning I normally use sunlight by putting the older, more expensive HoverCam Solo 8 next to a window. The new CZUR Aura scanner should eliminate that problem.)
7. The CZUR Aura scanner will scan at up to 4,320 by 3,240 pixels. (That’s total pixels of the image, not pixels per inch.)
8. A USB cable is included and the CZUR Aura will work with any Windows XP or newer system or with Macintosh systems running macOS 10.11 or later software. All required software is included with the scanner.
The design of the CZUR Aura looks simple although there is a lot of technology that isn’t immediately visible. In short, the book or document or photograph or whatever you wish to digitize is simply laid flat in front of the scanner (a black work mat is included at no extra charge) and the scan is made.
Software included with the CZUR Aura at no extra charge will save the scanned images in JPG, PDF, or in editable DOC formats. Yes, the software will even perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) conversion to create editable DOC files that you can then import into all sorts of applications. The OCR feature of the software supports 186 languages! OCR software alone from many vendors can cost a lot of money but the CZUR Aura includes the OCR software at no extra charge.
For high volume scanning, such as digitizing an entire book without cutting the binding, the operator uses two hands to manually turn the pages and then presses a foot switch (included at no extra charge) to “snap” each image. The result is scanning at the rate of 2 seconds per page (300 pages in 20 minutes) when digitizing a typical book, much faster than digitizing a book with a typical flatbed scanner.
NOTE: The 2 seconds per page specification is for saving images in JPG format. Saving images in PDF or in editable DOC format requires additional software translation on each image scanned and therefore will require a bit longer to complete. The exact speeds of scanning PDF or DOC images will depend upon the size and complexity of the items being digitized.
Another problem with many scanners that digitize items that are laid flat on a table or desk is that images often are skewed a bit one way or the other. The CZUR Aura includes lasers that shine three laser lines on the document (invisible in the scanned images). A revolutionary Artificial Intelligence algorithm then compares the laser lines to the outside edges of the item being digitized and automatically “deskews” the book curves and misalignment without operator intervention.
Finally, the CZUR Aura is lightweight and folds into a small package that is easily slipped into a briefcase, a book bag, or even into a large overcoat pocket. I wouldn’t call it “pocket sized” but I believe that it will fit into the pockets of my large trench coat that I only wear when it is raining.
The CZUR Aura has an introductory price of $179 US plus shipping. Worldwide shipping is available. However, if it was me, I probably would spend an extra $30 to also order the version that includes a battery for portable operation. (The battery can be switched off and the scanner can also operate on commercial power from a wall outlet.) Prices will be significantly higher for orders placed after the pre-orders placed on https://igg.me/at/czuraura/emal/849798 have been filled. This is normal procedure for almost all IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaigns. If you order now and later change your mind, the order can be canceled and your money refunded up until the day your order ships.
The introductory price is available only to those who pre-order via the IndieGoGo web site at https://igg.me/at/czuraura/emal/849798. Before ordering, you probably will want to read the FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions) at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/aura-speeds-simplifies-all-your-scanning-needs#/faq.
The producing company was hoping to raise at least $50,000 US in order to go into production of the CZUR Aura. As of the time I am writing this article, the total amount raised is: $723,736. I’d cll that a success!
I will suggest the CZUR Aura will be a great Christmas present for the genealogist. You might want to print this article on your local printer and leave it lying around in the house where your family members will see it and be inspired to purchase one for your Christmas present. (Hint. Hint.)
I am enthused about the new CZUR Aura. In fact, I am so enthused that I ordered mine this morning. I’m not waiting for Santa Claus. I also included an extra $30 for the battery option.