Write digital checks with a camera-based pen

An electronic check which eliminates the need for costly processing by banks but preserves the simplicity and ease of a traditional check book has been designed by a team from York, Newcastle and Northumbria universities in the UK.

May 18th, 2012
Writing digital checks with a camera-based pen
Writing digital checks with a camera-based pen

An electronic check which eliminates the need for costly processing by banks but preserves the simplicity and ease of a traditional check book has been designed by a team from York, Newcastle and Northumbria universities in the UK.

The "digital check book" is part of research at Newcastle University (Newcastle, UK) relating to ageing and health. According to Age UK, over 70 percent of people over 65 still frequently use checks.

The system devised by the project team, which is funded by the UK-based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC; Swindon, UK), uses a check book identical to those currently issued by banks. The only difference is that each check has a grayish background – which is, in fact, billions of tiny dots laid out in a specific pattern.

A camera in the pen tracks the check as it is written. Once complete, the account holder ticks a box - the only difference from a normal check - and the information is transmitted directly to the payee’s bank account.

“The beauty of this system is that it provides a safe and cheap electronic transaction for the banks but it’s a physical paper-based transaction for the customer,” says Newcastle University’s Dr. John Vines.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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