Multi-function device manufacturer Ricoh has launched its local business solutions group and Java API to foster the development of custom printing and imaging solutions for its customers and partners.
Ricoh claims its Embedded Software Architecture (ESA) is changing printers and copiers from standalone office devices to more intelligent business application hubs.
The ESA contains a Java-based API that enables ISVs and other third-parties to build integrated solutions to improve workplace inefficiency - from cost recovery to on-demand, Web-based printing.
Ricoh claims ESA can expedite office workflow and information management processes.
Ricoh Australia general manager of systems support Les Richardson said the launch of the business solutions group is a timely response to the Web 2.0 phenomenon.
Richardson said Web 2.0 is changing the way people and businesses communicate across traditional boundaries and the information economy is increasingly dependent upon open architecture, scalability, and integration to deliver the benefits.
"Ricoh developed ESA for the office with this in mind," he said. "Think of it as Print 2.0 and Scan 2.0 - a parallel revolution that is being driven by and supporting Web 2.0."
Richardson said when it comes to office automation, ESA has redefined the conventional meaning of convergence.
"Strategic procurement must now look beyond the multifunctional colour box for a device that can either serve as a platform for customized business solutions or complement existing infrastructure," he said.
Early adopters include Auckland University in New Zealand where Ricoh is integrating an in-house, proprietary cost recovery application; and Church of Christ Nursing Homes in Western Australia where Ricoh has developed an on-demand print solution.
Ricoh has been adding ESA capabilities to its MFDs for the past 12 months, with a total of 25 devices now shipping with the software.
Ricoh claims some 1100 developers worldwide have partnered with its developer program, of which 85 are now licensed to create integrated Java applications.
While Ricoh did not release details of its "open source" platform, the company claims to have issued its first ESA software development kit licenses in Australia.
"ESA is the printing world's most developer-friendly applications platform," Richardson said. "Being non-proprietary and written in Java, it was especially designed to attract the world's top software developers and in this way."