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What You Need to Know About OCR

Optical character recognition (OCR) can be traced as far back as a century when Emanuel Goldberg developed a machine that helped the blind read characters through telegraphic code. Since then, OCR has evolved into many applications for both businesses and consumers.

For those who aren’t familiar with OCR, it is software that finds and identifies characters in an image or document. It can be used for applications such as license plate recognition, data entry for business documents, depositing checks and much more. In the consumer world, OCR is sufficient for accurately capturing data. In fact, individuals can purchase OCR software for as little as $100.

However, for many of today’s business challenges, additional technology is needed to capture a massive amount of information accurately. As experts in OCR, we often receive questions related to its ability to handle a variety of processes. 

Below are some of the questions we often receive and our responses to them.

 

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Can OCR accuracy be improved?

OCR can capture information on most PDFs and structured documents assuming clear image quality. However, if the image quality is distorted in any way, a typical OCR engine may struggle to accurately capture that data. Businesses can improve the accuracy of their OCR by implementing pre-processing techniques and computer vision technology. In fact, computer vision can even improve the quality, so it rivals a human’s eyesight! 

What is the difference between OCR and computer vision?

OCR scans data from documents and images but identifies the data individually. As a result, the software may confuse similar characters. Computer vision combines several different types of data recognition techniques to process hard-to-read images in addition to non-textual information. It also understands information on a much deeper level than OCR on its own by considering every feature of an image or document to understand tables, graphs, and images.

Does English OCR software recognize my language?

Sometimes. OCR engines can be programmed to recognize almost any language. However, most software providers will only train it to recognize two or three languages. If the software is trained on too many languages, the OCR software will get confused and have a lower accuracy rate. Therefore, businesses looking to process languages such as Japanese or Arabic characters are better off looking for a vendor that specializes in those languages. 

Does OCR recognition improve over time?

OCR software can be remarkably accurate out of the box. However, new technologies like machine learning have enabled nearly perfect data extraction because the software can improve its accuracy over time. In fact, some vendors will train the software before deployment so that it takes less time to understand the required file types.

As business needs continue to grow in complexity, OCR technology will need to grow with it. Do you want to learn how OCR can benefit your business? Contact us to learn how computer vision can improve the accuracy of your OCR engine.

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