Patent number 8630029 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a method of reading document image data scanned by a scanner apparatus and of transferring the image data to a data reception apparatus.
"An image reading system in which a scanner apparatus is connected to a data reception apparatus such as a computer apparatus or the like has been known widely (for example, Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. H10-260927).
"The scanner apparatus in such a system is configured to read an image of an original document using an image sensor such as a CCD or the like, perform 2/multivalue conversion (A/D conversion) on the image data to make various corrections, and then, transfer the data to the data reception apparatus.
"Meanwhile, the data reception apparatus is comprised of a central processing unit (CPU), HDD (hard disk) for storing execution programs such as application programs, driver programs and the like, memory (RAM) for storing various kinds of data, keyboard, monitor screen and the like to be direct interfaces with a user, etc. and is configured to execute a variety of processing corresponding to a purpose of the user.
"The scanner apparatus and data reception apparatus are connected via an interface such as, for example, RS232C, SCSI, USB, PCe, Ethernet or the like, and the scanner apparatus is operated via the driver program according to descriptions instructed on the application program screen by the user, and performs up to transfer of image data starting with reading the original document. In addition, the driver program is formed of, for example, a general-purpose driver program conforming to specifications such as TWAIN, ISIS or the like.
"Herein, a conventional example is described in the case where the scanner apparatus of the above-mentioned system has an original document transport mechanism, and reads an original document transported by the original document transport mechanism.
"First, a user sets reading conditions such as resolution, document size, color/monochrome and the like on an application screen displayed on a screen of a computer (hereinafter, referred to as a PC) as shown in FIG. 12 (STEP 3000), and selects a scan button for instructing the apparatus to start reading (STEP 3001). After the user selects the scan button, the following exchange shown in FIG. 13 is performed between the application and driver, and between the driver and scanner apparatus.
"The application first initializes the scanner apparatus via the driver (not shown), and then, transmits a 'reading condition setting command' that is a command for requesting a reading condition setting of the first page, and the scanner apparatus receives this command via the driver (STEP 3002). Next, the application transmits a 'scan start command (Start Scan)' that is a command for requesting scanning of the first page (STEP 3003), and the scanner apparatus receiving this scan start command transports the first original sheet to a predetermined reading position, and drives a reading sensor formed of a CCD or the like to read the first original sheet image (STEP 3004).
"Next, the scanner apparatus receives an 'image data transfer command' for requesting transfer of image data of the first page from the application (STEP 3005), and after receiving the command, transfers the image data of the first page to the driver, and the driver transmits the data to the application (STEP 3006). After receiving all the image data of the first page, the application inquires of the scanner apparatus whether or not a next original sheet is present (not shown). When the next original sheet is present, the application transmits a reading condition setting command of the second page (STEP 3007), and then, transmits a scan start command of the second page (STEP 3008). These commands are transmitted to the scanner apparatus. The scanner apparatus receives the scan start command of the second page, and then, feeds the second original sheet to read the image (STEP 3009). Then, as in STEP 3005 and STEP 3006 as described above, the scanner apparatus transfers the image data in response to the image data transfer command (STEP 3010).
"As described above, in the conventional image reading system, a scan start command (Start Scan) is transmitted from the application program on a page basis, and the scanner apparatus starts feeding an original sheet of the next page after receiving the scan start command. Therefore, during transferring the image data to the PC from the scanner apparatus, even when the scanner apparatus side is in conditions capable of reading the next original sheet, the scanner apparatus cannot feed and read the next original sheet, and the time required for the entire processing becomes long.
"Further, conventionally, before the application outputs an image scan instruction signal (Start Scan) after acquiring image data corresponding to one page, the driver and scanner apparatus exchange commands and responses for checking whether or not the next original sheet is present and the like, and the image scan instruction signal (Start Scan command) is first output after the exchange is finished. The exchange between the driver and the scanner apparatus is performed by communications therebetween, requires a time, further delays output of the image scan instruction signal (Start Scan command) corresponding to the time, and thereby increases useless time during which feeding and reading of the next original sheet is not performed. Then, the effect of the communication time on the entire processing time increases, as the number of original document sheets to read consecutively increases.
"Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to reduce the entire processing time of from original document reading to image transfer when a scanner apparatus consecutively reads a plurality of image original document sheets in a system where the image data read by the scanner apparatus is transferred to a data reception apparatus."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "To attain the above-mentioned object, the invention provides configurations as described below.
"In an image reading system having a scanner apparatus for reading an original document image, and a data reception apparatus for receiving image data transferred from the scanner apparatus, the data reception apparatus has a receiving section that receives image data transferred from the scanner apparatus, a received data storage section that stores the image data received in the receiving section, and a driver program executing section that executes a driver program for operating the scanner apparatus to transmit a scan start command for instructing the scanner apparatus to start reading operation to the scanner apparatus, the scanner apparatus has a feeding section that feeds an original document sheet to a predetermined reading position, a reading sensor that reads an image of the original document sheet fed by the feeding section, a transfer data storage section that stores image data from the reading sensor, a transfer section that transfers the image data stored in the transfer data storage section to the data reception apparatus, and a scanner control section that controls the feeding section and the reading sensor, and the scanner control section controls the feeding section independently of the scan start command from the data reception apparatus to start feeding of second and subsequent original document sheets.
"In the invention, in a system where a scanner apparatus reads images of a plurality of original document sheets consecutively, and transfers the image data to a data reception apparatus, it is configured that reading of the first original sheet is executed based on an image scan instruction signal (Start Scan command) from an executing means of a driver program of the data reception apparatus, and that successive second and subsequent original document sheets undergo execution of image reading independently regardless of the presence or absence of an image scan instruction signal (Start Scan command), and the following effects are produced.
"Conventionally, with respect to second and successive original document sheets subsequent to the first original sheet, after the driver executing section on the data reception apparatus side receives image data of the first original sheet, the scanner apparatus starts image reading after waiting for the image scan instruction signal (Start Scan command) from the driver executing section. In contrast thereto, in the invention, since the scanner apparatus starts image reading independently, it is possible to set an interval time between original document sheets at a minimum limit required for image reading. It is thereby possible to remarkably improve the efficiency of the processing for reading images of a plurality of successive original document sheets.
"In other words, the scanner apparatus reads an image of the first original sheet based on a scan instruction signal from the driver executing section on the data reception apparatus side, and with second and subsequent original document sheets, executes image reading consecutively, for example, corresponding to available memory of the scanner apparatus, and it is thereby possible to reduce the interval time."
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