Capturing Electronic Signatures

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It seems that pretty much everyone is familiar with electronic signatures these days.  For instance, the mobile devices that UPS and FedEx drivers carry have been collecting electronic signatures for years.

A device that’s currently seeing rapid growth for signature capture is the Signature Capture Pad, tethered to and driven by a PC. These are popping up in retail stores, banks, government offices, medical offices, dental offices, legal offices and the list is growing. This post is a place to start for those tasked with purchasing the hardware and implementing electronic signature capture solutions.

L-Tron sells sig-cap pads by Topaz Systems, Inc., a pioneer in electronic signature technology. They offer some specialty products that I won’t get into in this post.  Today I want to talk about their most popular product lines, the SignatureGem and the SignatureLite.

First things first. Software! The closest thing to a plug and play option is SigPlus Basic. This is a free plug-in for Microsoft Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat. For the latter, you can use Acrobat Reader for client forms, but you’ll need a copy of Acrobat Pro to design your forms. If you’re trying to capture signatures into any other application, you have to make sure the software supports it.  Contact your software vendor and ask them for a list of compatible hardware.  For the developer crowd, Topaz offers a suite of free development tools for Java, ActiveX, C++ and .NET

Topaz Electronic Signature Capture Pad

Next, a brief overview of the SigGem and SigLite lines. Both product lines are available in Standard and LCD. The Standard line provides an opaque signature surface.  There is no visual feedback on the pad. Imagine signing a piece on paper with a pen that’s out of ink. That’s pretty close to the user experience of the Standard pads. The LCD line has (as you’d expect) an LCD signature surface. As the stylus passes over the surface, it leaves a trail of “digital ink” behind; positive visual feedback to the user. LCD pads are offered with an optional LED backlight for higher visibility.

The SigLite offers a pressure sensitive surface. This is the more cost-effective solution, but at the expense of durability. It carries a one year warranty versus three years for the SigGem, which uses an extremely durable tempered glass surface. The capacitive surface is used in conjunction with a battery powered active stylus. Each Signature Capture Pad is available in a variety of sizes with USB or Serial interface options.

Finally, make sure you consider all of your options before ordering:

  • Software Compatibility. This is a must!
  • Interface. Serial or USB?
  • LCD or Standard Surface? If LCD, how about a backlight with that?
  • Active Surface or Pressure Sensitive?  Consider durability in terms of volume and environment of use.
  • Size. 1×5 for signature only, larger devices to display text generated by your software application.

Okay, I’ll admit, SILAS isn’t the best acronym in the world, but you can actually pronounce it. Take a look through the Topaz product line at L-TronDirect and if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call or send us an email.