Best practices for capturing receipts

We had received some great questions via our feedback support line and somewhat concerning feedback on iTunes. There, what no better time than to publish a blog post which can help educate and advise on best practices for capturing receipts using IQBoxy app on your iPhone.

4 focus areas:

Receipt Capture Image Quality

1. Receipt Distance

Your iPhone or iPad comes equipped with a high resolution camera. When snapping a photo of your receipt using IQBoxy, you can improve the accuracy of the receipt detection technology by moving the phone further away from the receipt. Vary the distance and watch the green receipt detection highlight change in accuracy. After a while you will have a better feel for the way the system works.

2. Image Quality

When you scan/capture a receipt using IQBoxy, your phone is basically taking a picture of it and sending it to our servers to perform live OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on it. Our OCR has came a long way since we started. It has a learning engine so the more you feed it the better it gets.

Make sure you;

  • Hold the phone (camera) steady as you press the button to take a picture.

    Blur is often caused by motion when taking a photo.

    And blur is also caused when you camera (phone) slows the shutter automatically to compensate for poor light.. this leads me to the 2nd point.

  • Use simple or black background to place the receipt on before capturing it. This helps improve the receipt detection. Receipt detection yields a cropped image which in turn improves the accuracy of the OCR.

  • Light helps with picture clarity or a very steady hand. This is why tripods are used in dim places or at night.

    Taking photos indoors without a DSLR camera or an external light source is often tricky. You only get around 300-800 LUX of light indoors.

    Where you cannot get enough light (like indoors), flip the light on your phone using this button or move to a brighter light source.

Smarts inside the IQBoxy app. when you are in a place of low data connection, the app is smart enough to know this low connection and will compress the captured receipt image to make sure it gets stored in the cloud. Sometimes the additional compression used by the app results with our OCR having a hard time reading the receipt. It’s a give or take scenario. Is it better to store a receipt no matter what or fail? You tell us. We are open to adding customization to allow you to control this. Send your Feedback / Questions here.

3. Location Services

GPS, on the phone, is a often used in the wrong context. For example, GPS only works outdoors. Not indoors. Yet people refer to GPS indoors when in fact what they really mean is “Location”. Location might be the more fairer word to use when referring to how accurately your phone can identify its latitude and longitude.

Your phone is super smart. It uses what’s called Fusion Location Services to make sense of it’s where abouts in the world. Fusion means that a combination of the 3 technologies mentioned below will be used to accurately locate you.

Cheat Sheet

Technology WiFi/beacons Cell Towers GPS
How it works Uses a table compiled of beacons and their positions. Cell network positioning uses the Triangulation technique of 1+ towers. Connecting to and timing the responses from 4 different satellites.
Indoors Yes Yes - but no where signal low No - requires a clear view of the sky.
Outdoors Maybe - pending on reception to a WiFi/beacon. Yes - but distant Yes - very accurate.
How accurate Within meters. Meters to hundreds of meters. Pin point to few meters.
How much control do you have Plenty! Just turn on your WiFi in your phone. Even if you cannot connect to it, the beacon has a position fixed. Not much you can do here except for walk until your phone grabs onto a new stronger & closer cell tower. Plenty! Walk outside and make sure you are in clear view of the sky.
Location Services on iPhone

Why is having Location Services turned on important?

IQBoxy app uses Location Services to detect where you are so it could present a list of locally available business for you to tag as Places. You can also search by address should Location Services not provide accurate position.

How to optimize for best location identification?

  • 1. Make sure that Location Services is ON. Navigate to Settings > Location Services > ON and that you have allowed IQBoxy to Location Services.
  • 2. If you are indoors taking a photo of your receipt, then using the cheat sheet above you want to make sure that WiFi is turned on your phone (see screenshot to the left).
  • 3. If you are outdoors, make sure that you are in clear sight of the sky. This is the ultimate pin point accuracy.

We hope these 2 tips on Image & Location will allow you to capture receipts with perfect accuracy.

Allow IQBoxy to Access Camera, Photos and Location

4. Allow IQBoxy to Access

The following are located in your phone's "General > Settings > IQBoxy".

At a minimum please allow IQBoxy to access your "Camera" (pictured left). Without this setting you will not be able to take photos of your receipts.

We also recommend you set "Location" to "While Using" for reasons mentioned above. And if you want to upload receipt photos from your camera's photo gallery enable "Photos" (pictured left)