Let's face it. The business of personal scanners and OCR technology basically plateaued somewhere in the mid to late 1990's. And as was the case with artificial intelligence, not a year goes by where the much-beleagured idea of the paperless office is promised, but not delivered. At least not en masse. We're still waiting for that breakthrough to bust the category open like the iPad did for tablets (another technology that struggled for respect for more than 15 years.) We expect 2012 will be no different--but two of the first offerings that we'll be looking to check out come from The Neat Company. At CES, The Neat Company will show off its NeatDesk and NetReceipts solutions.
Much like the overcrowded category of business card scanners, the secret sauce in these scanners is the ability to optically recognize text on a variety of document types (not just business cards, but receipts and other documents too), then parse that text into something meaningful like an entry that could be used in your expense reporting system. Everything that's scanned by NeatDesk is keyword-tagged and filed into a database. Meanwhile NeatReceipts can also work with all document types, but is designed for portability.