Signature Capture from OS X Lion Turns Mac’s Webcam Into a Tablet…Sort of…
Need to sign a PDF form quickly and email it but don’t want to print it out? One way to do that is via Microsoft’s Windows 7 devices, many of which come with active digitizers to add inking and handwriting capabilities to ordinary documents, files, and photos. Another way, which Apple is conjuring up, is via the next-generation OS X operating system, codenamed Lion, feature called Signature Capture.
Signature Capture does what its name implies–it allows you to capture your signature for use in digital forms. All you have to do is sign a piece of white paper with black ink, hold your signature up to your Mac’s webcam, and the software will convert your signature for use in Adobe PDF forms and other documents.
It’s called ‘Signature Capture’ and it allows you to write your signature with a black pen on a piece of paper, hold it up to your Mac’s built-in camera, and place it on a document in Preview. The feature works as advertised and is very seamless.
The image capture is also very quick and mostly accurate. We got decent-to-good results in all of ours tests and the best advice we have is to write very clearly. Following Apple’s instruction to use black pen is also a must. Using a blue pen, for example, gave us washed out results. We see this coming in handy a lot, especially in PDFs, and hopefully Apple makes it a framework that other companies can integrate into their applications.
While Apple doesn’t have a professional-grade tablet yet, the company has shunned the notion of requiring a stylus on its consumer-grade iOS products. Despite a stylus patent, Apple’s vision, initially, for the iPhone is to create device that’s fully touch-optimized as that will be more intuitive to the user rather than requiring consumers to pull out an unwieldy stylus or digitizer. While the results of this is a positive move for the user experience, it doesn’t support inking as well as tablets running Microsoft’s OS, which is optimized more for use with either a stylus, digitizer, or even fingers.
For the MacBook Air, the company says that it didn’t want to go with a touchscreen on that product as it wouldn’t make for a comfortable user experience on a notebook–it is awkward to have to reach your arms out to tap on the display on a notebook form factor, according to Steve Jobs–so this signature capture may be the closest that we get to handwriting recognition on a Mac sans a pro-grade tablet.
Given that iPhones have cameras on them, I can’t see why this feature cannot make it to future iOS devices as a recent survey finds that most iPhone users want inking capabilities.