In 1988, Silk Scientific Inc. was founded by Jeff Silk, in response to a need for extracting digital data from hard copy graphs. Our first product was the UN‑PLOT‑IT optical pen system, which used a plotter to automatically extract (x,y) coordinates from graphs. In 1992, the UN‑SCAN‑IT software replaced the UN‑PLOT‑IT system. The UN‑SCAN‑IT software uses a scanner to digitize graphs (instead of a plotter), and is much faster and easier to use than the UN‑PLOT‑IT system. In 1994, we introduced and added the UN‑SCAN‑IT gel software, which is designed to replace expensive and complex densitometer systems, by allowing electrophoresis gels to be quantified directly from a standard scanner.
Since the introduction of the UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel software, we have continually strived to improve and update the software by adding user-friendly features, thus making the software more powerful and intuitive. In addition, we have created customized versions of the software to meet the specific need of many customers. UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel are now used in all 50 states and more than 80 countries throughout the world, and have been referenced in over 4000 scientific publications. Most major U.S. universities, as well as many large corporations and foreign institutions, now use our software regularly in their research and data analysis endeavors.
After more than a quarter century of developing digitizing software, we continue our commitment to providing powerful, affordable, and easy to use graph digitizing software and gel analysis software to the scientific community. In addition, we have also introduced a physical therapy App for the iPhone and iPod Touch (Gaitometer App). Thank you for your interest in our products and for your support.
Dr. Jeffrey Silk
President | Founder
Q. What is the difference between UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT converts hard copy graphs (strip chart recordings, old graphs, published graphs, etc.) to digital (x,y) data. UN‑SCAN‑IT gel has all the features of UN‑SCAN‑IT plus features for digitizing and analyzing electrophoresis gels (i.e. gel densitometry).
Q. Which scanners and images are compatible with the software?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel will work with virtually any scanner, digital camera, or comparable imaging device. The software reads standard image formats saved by most scanners, digital cameras, etc. In other words, use your own scanner or image file (JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PNG, etc.), and our software will digitize that image file.
Q. Can the software analyze PDF files?
A. PDF files generally contain both images and text information. Therefore, PDF files should be converted to true image formats such as JPG, TIFF, BMP, PNG, PCX, etc. before digitizing.
Q. What versions of Windows and Macintosh operating systems are compatible with the software?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel for Windows is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 (or newer). The Macintosh version is compatible with all version of Macintosh OS X (10.7 or higher).
Q. Is the software downloadable?
A. All orders include a CD and User's Manual. Although most orders are shipped within 24 hours, and generally arrive within 2 to 4 business days, you can also download the software. Download instructions will be emailed when your order is processed.
Q. Can I digitize my own image with the Demo, or does the Demo only digitize the included sample images?
A. The demo will allow you to digitize one or two of your own images. Simply load your image into the demo program to obtain an Imagecode. Telephone or Email us with the Imagecode, and we will provide the corresponding Passcode that allows that image to be read into the software. The Imagecode and Passcode are unique to each image, and are date sensitive.
Q. Does the Demo contain all of the same features as the full version?
A. The demo is the full version of the software, except the ability to load images is restricted. The demo does not include a complete User's Manual - please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the use and features of the demo.
Q. What are the licensing restrictions of the UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel software?
A. The UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel software are sold as single computer licenses. The software licenses are perpetual and do not require any annual licensing. Multiple copy and site license discounts are available (contact us for details).
Q. Is there a money-back guarantee?
A. Yes! There is a 30 day money back guarantee.
Q. How long does it take to digitize a graph?
A. The time required depends largely upon the quality and complexity of the original image. A simple graph can be automatically digitized in less than a minute, while more complex graphs may require additional user interaction and time.
Q. Does UN‑SCAN‑IT digitize colored lines?
A. Yes. UN‑SCAN‑IT can differentiate lines and symbols based upon color or grayscale values. This can be very useful in separating data lines or symbols of different color or intensity.
Q. What is the resolution of the UN‑SCAN‑IT digitized data?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT operates at full scanner resolution. In other words, a 10 inch graph scanned at 300 dots per inch (dpi) will yield 3,000 data points. UN‑SCAN‑IT is not limited to screen resolution. In addition, the resolution can also be increased or decreased using a cubic spline or linear fit built into the UN‑SCAN‑IT software.
Q. What if the original graph has grid lines?
A. Although grid lines can confuse the Automatic Line Follow mode there are generally some simple solutions. The UN‑SCAN‑IT software has grid line filters that can recognize (and ignore) grid lines based upon the intensity, thickness, or horizontal/vertical nature of the grid lines. In addition, if the grid lines are thinner or a lighter color than the data line, most scanners (or photocopy machines) can be adjusted to drop out the grid lines while retaining the data line. If the grid lines are particularly difficult, you can erase the grid lines just where they touch the top surface of the data line, or use Manual Mode (Auto-x-Increment) where UN‑SCAN‑IT moves automatically in the x direction and the user controls the y movement.
Q. What if the graph contains multiple curves?
A. If the curves do not intersect, UN‑SCAN‑IT will follow each curve automatically. If the lines do cross, you can use color differentiation to follow the desired line, or the software can be automatically paused at the intersection points and digitizing resumed just beyond the intersection point. Then a cubic spline fit can fill the gap. In addition, UN‑SCAN‑IT has a Semi-Automatic Mode that can be used for intersecting lines or dashed and dotted lines.
Q. Does UN‑SCAN‑IT require orthogonal axes?
A. Yes, UN‑SCAN‑IT assumes standard orthogonal (perpendicular) axes. Curvilinear and circular axes charts are much more difficult to accurately assign (x,y) values, and UN‑SCAN‑IT does not have features specific to these types of graphs.
Q. Does UN‑SCAN‑IT work with non-linear scales?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT will work linear, semi-log, and log-log scales. Non-linear and Non-log formats must be input logically...
Example: Jan 1 to Dec 31 should be entered as Day 1 to Day 365
Example: 10:00am to 2:30pm should be entered as Hour 10.0 to Hour 14.5
Q. Does UN‑SCAN‑IT digitize PDF files?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT does not currently digitize PDF files. PDF files often contain multiple pages, imbedded text, and variable dpi settings, which can present difficulties in extracting accurate and useful digitized data. The PDF file should be converted to a standard image format (TIFF, JPG, BMP, GIF, etc.).
Q. How does UN‑SCAN‑IT compare to similar products?
A. Since we introduced UN‑SCAN‑IT in 1992, we have worked to make UN‑SCAN‑IT the most accurate and easy to use digitizing software of it's kind. Not only has this software nearly eliminated the need for manual digitizing tablets, but our users have commented that the UN‑SCAN‑IT software is the most powerful and easy-to-use digitizing software they have used.
Q. How long does it take to analyze a gel?
A.The time required depends largely upon the quality and complexity of the original image. A clean gel can usually be analyzed in just a few minutes; while "smiles", "smudges", etc. will require additional interaction.
Q. What is the spatial resolution of the UN‑SCAN‑IT gel data?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT gel operates at full scanner resolution, and is not limited to screen resolution. Generally 100 to 300 dpi 8-bit grayscale images are sufficient for obtaining good results.
Q. Will UN‑SCAN‑IT gel work with Western blots, Northern blots, Coomassie Gels, TLC, etc.?
A. Yes. It doesn't matter what technique was used to obtain the gel image as long as the original gel, film, or a photo of the gel can be scanned into the computer to generate a standard image file. If the gel is only visible under UV light, generally it is often easiest to take a photo of the gel and scan the photo, or use a digital camera to generate an image.
Q. How can films be scanned?
A. The best results for scanning a film can be obtained by using a scanner that has a transparency mode. This type of scanner shines light through the film (transparency mode) rather than the standard mode which reflects off the film (reflective mode).
Q. Will UN‑SCAN‑IT gel work with wet gels?
A. Yes. As long as you can scan the gel or take a digital photo, then UN‑SCAN‑IT gel can quantify it.
Q. Can UN‑SCAN‑IT gel analyze TLC plates?
A. Yes. The bands in TLC plates can be treated in much the same manner as the bands in a gel. If the bands are only visible under UV light, simply take a photo of the TLC plate and scan the photo, or use a digital camera to generate an image.
Q. Does UN‑SCAN‑IT gel analyze PDF files?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT gel does not currently analyze PDF files. PDF files often contain multiple pages, imbedded text, and variable dpi settings, which can present difficulties in extracting accurate and useful digitized data. The PDF file should be converted to a standard image format (TIFF, JPG, BMP, GIF, etc.).
Q. How does UN‑SCAN‑IT gel compare to gel densitometer systems?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT gel users have compared the results they have obtained with UN‑SCAN‑IT gel to their expensive gel densitometers and have indicated that the UN‑SCAN‑IT gel results compare very favorably to those from the densitometer. In addition, many users have expressed that the UN‑SCAN‑IT gel system is much more intuitive and easy-to-use than other more expensive systems.
Q. What do the results actually give me and what can I do with them?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT converts pixel locations from a scanned hard copy graph into a usable (x,y) data format. The data can be used to analyze the graph, integrate peak areas, re-scale graphs, re-plot data, remove grid lines, smooth data, etc. UN‑SCAN‑IT gel quantifies and sums the grayscale values obtained from a scanned gel or similar image. These results can be used to determine optical densities, relative concentrations, band locations, and molecular weights. Additionally, the data from UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel can be easily exported to other software for further analysis.
Q. In which formats can the digitized data be saved?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel save the data in ASCII (text) format which can be read by most spreadsheet, graphics, and data analysis programs. In addition, the data can be copied to the clipboard, and pasted directly into other applications.
Q. How accurate are UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel?
A. UN‑SCAN‑IT and UN‑SCAN‑IT gel are only as accurate as the original graph, gel, and scanned image. In other words, if the original graph or gel is blurry, saturated, smeared, poorly scanned, non-linear, etc. the data obtained will not be accurate. With a good image and a careful setup process, the data is spatially accurate to within one scanner unit (i.e. 1/300 inch when scanned at 300 dpi).