Law Office Technology–Office Lens

The other day, I was in Montgomery County needing to make a copy of the State’s file on one of my cases.  I brought with me the VuPoint Magic Wand II, which is a great little hand-held scanner.

VuPoint Magic Wand II
The VuPoint Magic Wand II

It’s fast, saves documents as jpegs or pdfs to a removable microSD chip, can transfer files via wifi, and is very convenient.  It is also an egregious battery hog, devouring them like nobody’s business.  And when I pulled it out the other day to scan in about 45 pages of discovery, it was dead, dead, dead.

Luck would have it, though, that Microsoft recently published Office Lens to the Apple App Store, (much to the dismay of Windows Phone diehards) and I quickly downloaded it, installed it, and within 3 or 4 minutes, I was “scanning” in the documents to my phone. Less than 15 minutes later, I was done.  It took longer than it would have with the Magic Wand II, but it definitely worked in a pinch, and I’m incredibly impressed with how it works.

Nearly every attorney I know has taken pictures of documents with their phones, and the results are usually less than stellar–images aren’t in focus, or they’re too dark, and printing them out is usually a disaster. Furthermore, you need to hover over the document and get it fit squarely within the confines of your screen, lest you end up with trapezoidal images.  The whole process is cumbersome and less than ideal (hence the Magic Wand, which was purchased to stop taking pictures of documents).

Office Lens, though, is really quite fascinating. You launch it, and select what sort of image you’re taking: a photo, a document, or a whiteboard.  And then it hunts around for document-shaped, um, shapes. When it finds one, it highlights the area, and then you press the camera button.  The next thing you know, the document is full-screen, crisp, and ready to be saved to your phone.

Office Lens In Action
Office Lens in action. Sourced from

Which is where Office Lens becomes a titch cumbersome.  This is because there are four steps involved: you take your picture, let it process, click “Done,” and then select “Photo Library.” (You can also choose to export it to OneNote, OneDrive, Word, PowerPoint, as a PDF, or email.) It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it slows down the process considerably always having to select “Photo Library.”  If I could change one thing, it would be that it would allow me to toggle the export selection for the entire “scanning” session.

Other than that, though? It’s pretty incredible technology. It’s available on the Windows Phone Store and the App Store. Android users have to do a preview program though.  And it’s free, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer.