'Lets get Digital:' local company launches curbside scanning service

'Lets get Digital:' local company launches curbside scanning service »Play Video

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- If life is all about memories, busy mom Michelle Virta could fill an entire dining room table with hers.

"When I would open this (box) and say, 'oh my God, what's in here?' I would just walk away," Virta said, laughing, standing over a blue plastic container the size of a tricycle. "People go through this and they just get overwhelmed and walk away from it."

The Snoqualmie mother of two wasn't immune to those same pressures. She's documented every step of her kids' lives - from homework to artwork - but between soccer games and science fairs, she hasn't exactly scored an A+ in organizing.

"When they first were born, I was completely going to stay on top of photo albums and put everything in an organized way," Virta said of her kids, now ages 15 and 16. "(But with) them being so close together, I ran out of time to do that."

Short on time, but long on photos, documents, and more, she heard about GEN-ARC, a local business that could help lighten the load. The Snoqualmie-based digital estate management company has been around about four years, but only recently launched a curbside scanning service, where a technician will scan photos, documents, and more - in your driveway - while you wait.

"This is a very typical customer that we deal with," said technician Phillip Halls, as he surveyed the stacks of papers, photos, and even Social Security cards. "We scan about a thousand photos per hour; albums take a little longer, but this is about a solid eight-hour appointment."

Halls hauled away hundreds of photos into the van outside and began scanning. When he's finished, Virta will receive a thumb drive with her digitized items, along with the option to upgrade to a permanent, secure online archive that she can share with family and friends.

"They're irreplaceable assets, and they're one of a kind," said Peter Schmitt, CEO of GEN-ARC. "Anything can be digitized. It could be photos, slides, old books, notes, newspapers, movies."

"I was very interested in making sure my family's history could be preserved digitally for the benefit of my daughter, and her children, and her children's children," he added.

Pricing on GEN-ARC's services varies, starting at $0.12 for documents, $0.89 for photos and slides, and $22 per videotape. Online archiving costs $3,000 for a lifetime base membership fee, along with per-item costs, the company said.

GEN-ARC currently offers mobile scanning to homes and businesses in the Seattle area, with plans to expand to Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Los Angeles in early 2014.

"I was feeling guilty about all this, thinking, what if something did happen (to everything)? I mean, there's pictures of my grandparents who are no longer here," Virta said. "I was so excited to get this done. I feel like it's just security and I feel proud that I've taken care of it."