Product: Phone: Visual Throughput
Number-scanning Phone   (0)  [vote for, against]
Let your phone read the number for you

Need to call a phone number you have found in your local phone book and you can't find your glasses to read those tiny digits? Or you just can't focus after last night's frivolity? Here's a simple (well, it seems simple to me) solution - a telephone with a tiny built-in OCR scanner. The Scanphone (patent pending) has a small lens at the top of its handset (corded, cordless or even cellular) and you simply swipe the lens across any phone number printed in phone listings, newspapers, brochures, flyers, what-have-you, and the phone dials the number automatically. If the OCR software is good enough it could even work with handwritten numbers.
-- Canuck, Apr 06 2003

(?) Translate signs on the go http://www.bayarea....hnology/2901409.htm
IBM research project [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Card Reader http://www.halfbake.../idea/Card_20Reader
similar idea and a phone with OCR is mentioned in the annos [Acme, Dec 01 2004]

(?) phone that reads phone numbers http://www.textuall...archives/006195.htm
about to be baked [Acme, Dec 01 2004]

- unless it uses the Apple Newton handwriting-recognition technology...
Good idea though.
-- hippo, Apr 06 2003

Oooh, I like this - Could you adapt it to pick up on other things like if you show it a picture of a bit of fluff and it'll call your girlfriend? Or a old bag, and it'll call your wife?
-- Seaneeboy, Apr 07 2003

Given where we're going with technology, your cell phone should look the number up for you, then dial it itself.

You can already get white pages and yellow pages listings online, and if you call up directory assistance in the States, they will dial the number automatically (for a small fee, of course).
-- DrCurry, Apr 07 2003

There is a researcher at IBM who adapted one of these camera phones to take a picture of a sign and transmit it back to a server. The server would then extract the text and send a translation back. This was used to translate foreign language signs when travelling. Different application, but the client/server idea would let you bring much more sophisticated OCR software to bear on the problem if need be. (See link).
-- krelnik, Apr 07 2003

Seaneeboy, if we continue off on your tangent, would it call your boss if you scanned a picture of a jackass? Your lazy-ass brother-in-law from a picture of a sponge? An annoying, unnamed fellow halfbaker from a picture of a dipstick?

I forgot something. If the OCR software is good enough it would also be able to dial those interesting phone numbers scratched into the walls of public washrooms for those who are desperate for company. : )
-- Canuck, Apr 08 2003

I used to have a Philips Genie mobile phone. It was one of the first to have voice recognition dialing. At a big dinner, my mischiveous colleague who was sitting next to me grabbed my phone, got everyone's attention and, looking at my girlfriend, said "BITCH" into my phone....

It dialed his number.
-- FloridaManatee, Apr 08 2003

random, halfbakery