The pen captures what's physically written on the paper form (built originally in Microsoft Excel). Checking a specific box on the form "wakes up" the Bluetooth radio which can use the employee's cellphone as a modem (the pen also can use Bluetooth or USB to connect to a PC). Capturx's character recognition algorithms convert the written data into SharePoint lists, which are columns and fields that define the item data or metadata schema. The lists are the basis for sifting SharePoint data, visualizing it and sharing it. The data can then be passed on to a range of other enterprise applications, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
"With data [only] on paper, the workflows, the business processes, just stop," says Gauld. "Our electronic digital transmission addresses this." Within minutes, data collected in the field via pen-and-paper forms can be accurately transmitted, formatted and stored in a SharePoint server.
The Holland America Line, part of Carnival Corp., a major cruise and vacation company, uses Capturx for SharePoint to streamline a complex and rigorous hiring process in scores of local markets around the world. In the past, the company faced delays of five to 10 days before written information gathered at a local office was scanned and uploaded to headquarters. With Capturx for SharePoint and Anoto digital pens, the data can be loaded into corporate SharePoint minutes after the form is complete. The system also eliminates time-consuming document scanning.
The new SharePoint release of Capturx also automates a range of processes to improve complete and accurate data collection. The server will send a mobile email back to the field worker with an alert, such as "signature is missing." The worker can then get the document signed without having to return a second time.
Finally, the new release now can automatically create a PDF file of the original form and all the original writing, and then add keywords and other meta data. The result is a searchable PDF of a handwritten form.
Capturx for SharePoint is available now either as a hosted subscription service, at about $49 per user monthly, or as a traditional behind-the-firewall server, at $1,000-1,500 per 10 users.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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