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Scanners take images like text, photographs or even small objects and convert them into digital images. The scanner most of us have probably used is the Flatbed. For office use this by far the most cost efficient and relibale scanner.
The Hand Held is type of scanner that relies heavily on the steadiness of the hands doing the scanning. Unsteady hands dragging the device could result in the image distorting. The hand held's images are normally reproduced in monochrome. Due to it's inefficiency the hand held's popularity declined in the 90's.
One of the earliest but still useful incarnations of the scanner is called the Drum. Scanning is done by first soaking the image in oil, then wrapping it around the drum and rotating it in front of a photomultiplier tube. Although, the drum can create higher resolution and shaper images, it is not used as widely used as the flatbed due to the cost and size. However, it is still used for high end scanning tasks like archiving photos in a museum.
The 3D scanner records "points" on the surface of an object to create a 3 dimensional effect like that found in video games. 3D scanning often requires numerous scans from several different angles. Like a camera it cannot record images that are unclear.
Sci Fi ScannersEdit
And then of course there are the "Scanners" with telepathic and telekinektic abilities, like those in the infamous David Cronenburg film Scanners, where people with the abiility to scan minds are used to aquire sensitive information on security systems. The movie begins with a Scanners head exploding prusumably from trying to scan the brain of someone with too much info in it.