Google’s in-house incubator, Area 120, is releasing its latest project called Stack. This app will help you digitize your documents, receipts, and other papers you have to lie around the house and then automatically save them to Google Drive. The app will also helpfully suggest a name for your scans and the correct category — or “stack,” as it’s called.
At launch, Stack can handle scanning a range of differently sized documents — like bills, shopping receipts, or even IDs — which are then turned into PDFs and organized. At the same time, important information from within the file is detailed using AI technology. The idea for Stack comes from Christopher Pedregal, who previously co-founded the edtech startup Socratic, which was acquired by Google back in 2018.
Pedregal notes that, at Socratic, they had taken advantage of Google’s computer vision and language understanding technologies to make learning easier for high school students. While at Google, he began to think about how those same technologies could work to better organize documents. To experiment with the idea, he teamed up with Matthew Cowan. The two first worked together on DocAI, a Google Cloud team developing AI technology that could analyze billions of documents.
They realized that they could also apply DocAI’s enterprise technology to users’ personal documents, which led to the creation of Stack. With the Stack app, initially available for Android, users can take a photo of a copy. The app will automatically name it and “stack” it into the correct category — like Bills, Banking, House, IDs, Immigration, Insurance, Legal, Medical, Pet, Receipts, Tax, Travel, Vehicles, and Work.
Users can add multiple pages when scanning a document, and Stack will OCR all the pages in a copy so that the full text of the paper is searchable. Users can also star their most important scans for quicker access.
While the ability to quickly digitize documents by photographing them isn’t new — Microsoft has offered Office Lens for years, for example — Stack will also be able to identify critical information from within the documents, like the “due date” on a bill, the “total amount due” or “account number.” It can then pull that info out to make it easier to find later on.
The app additionally allows users to search through the full text of the documents, not just the title, to find the information they need. To keep the items protected, Stack’s records can be secured by either your fingerprint or face scan, similar to how Google Drive works today. And Drive users can have all their scans automatically synced over to Google Drive. Google says the app is currently available on Android as a free download with no in-app purchases. Based on user feedback, Google will decide whether to bring Stack to more platforms, like iOS.