One of the challenges humans often face when reading a friend’s handwriting. It was more difficult during postal letter-writing days, but with computerization, OCR has become much easier and efficient.

It is important that humans and computers are on equal footing to provide the necessary information. Computers use devices like keyboards and mice or other input tools so we can communicate with them.

Typing a letter on the computer is much easier for people and machines than writing it out by hand, which is why optical character recognition (OCR) can’t read handwritten letters.

 

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

Optical character recognition (OCR) is a process that converts texts, handwritten or printed, into machine-coded text.

While it may not be as efficient, computers can also have some basic OCR capability. Their understanding is nowhere near as good as a human’s, but they are still able to recognize shapes which is more than enough for an input of text to be translated into a letter, email, tweet, or any other form of communication.

Computers need to work harder than humans for any task. If you want a computer to read an old book or text, first present the scanner with a picture of that page generated on it.

Pages created through the scanner are usually in JPEG format. Whether it’s a picture of a page or an Eiffel tower, they’re meaningless to your computer if you don’t scan them first.

In order to convert all paper documents into a computer-readable format, you first need some sort of scanning device.

 

Benefits of OCR

  • No more retyping

When it comes to computers, errors like erasing a digital file can come about easily. But the good news is that it’s easy to replace files with optical character recognition software — all one needs is a hard copy of the original or recent draft.

  • Quick digital searches

Conversion software converts scanned documents into word processing files and allow you to save each document with an individual name. Example: Once a document has been saved, it can be found easily by searching for its file or account with no need to go through the categorizing and filing process.

  • Edit text

Once you’ve scanned the document, it is important to edit the text within your word processing program. An alternative is to process this data as a separate document and save it in PDF format.

  1. Typed family recipes
  2. Rental agreements
  3. Resumes
  4. Contracts
  • Save space

When you receive digital documents, freeing up space in your cabinets can be easy. Just turn the paper version into editable digital files and save some storage room!

  • Accessibility

OCR software is a useful tool to make documents easily accessible. With the computer’s voice-operated program, blind people can scan books, magazines, and incoming faxes into word processing programs with ease.

 

How does OCR work?

OCR is relevant both to humans and machines. Humans rely on this so they can understand textual information passed from a machine; the most contemporary example of this would be Wikipedia. In order for OCR to work correctly, your documents need to be printed in the same font first. But even then, one letter could still have a different appearance than another.

There are 2 ways to solve this problem.

Pattern recognition

Suppose if everyone wrote the letter ‘A’ in the same format, a computer that can recognize it would be easier to find. You would only need to compare your scanned image with a stored version of the ‘A’, if both match, then that’s the document. It is like Cinderella and her fairy godmother “if the shoes fit you”.

To make letters the same size and height, a special font called OCR-A was developed in the 1960s. It could be used for things like bank checks and printed advertising materials that required reliable, legible text.

The strokes of this font were carefully designed. The world still has not adapted to write in OCR-A format, which gives computers a hard time recognizing text written by humans. Technology took the next step and taught OCR programs to recognize written text, letters in some common fonts.

That means they could not read any printed text, but they can recognize any font that you send them.

Feature detection

Feature detection is known as intelligent character recognition. This more extensive method of scanning can detect the same letters but in a variety of different ways. For example, if you have an A in a capital letter with horizontal lines within it, by following these patterns, computers are able to read words using a pattern recognition OCR. But most of the world’s printed material is not in OCR format, and handwritten text is even less likely. However, this problem can be solved – when patterns are detected in neural networks, they go through character recognition to identify what it is. Computers then have programs that will automatically extract these patterns.

How optical character recognition improves document management?

You’ve got heaps of papers on your desk, and since you’re stuck looking for certain pieces manually, it’s been taking a lot of time. You’re considering scanning everything into a computer using conventional means.

As a human, you won’t have an easier time with conventional means. Use the OCR software, and you will be able to work with the documents as you would using Microsoft Word or PDF files. Technology, fortunately, has made it possible for us to search document annals of any size in a matter of few moments.

With digital copies, you can enjoy control and the ability to audit them. Instead of sending paper documents for employees to review manually, document retention and storage can be fully automated or purge old records when necessary.

Digital documents are more precise, searchable, and give you better management capabilities.

Document management software reduces the chances of mishandling or misidentifying sensitive documents. Digital document forms allow users to enjoy complete control over their documents.

 

How does handwriting recognition work?

Some characters make up for the neat, laser-printed computer text. Printed computer texts are far easier to scan than a scribbled handwritten note. When it comes to human handwriting brains, have beaten out computers. We get a rough idea of what’s written on any note, no matter how messy it might be.

Making it easy to recognize

Reading handwritten notes is difficult for computers because they must rely on postal sorting devices to identify zipcode markings on envelopes. These mail sorting machines are better able to read small amounts of legible text and numbers written in uppercase lettering spaced apart for easy identification.

You must have seen forms with OCR designed so that boxes for each letter or number are separated with red lines. Some even have a dropout color, pink, to help human beings separate text written by people from the computer’s writing.

what is optical character reader involve in practice?

We often don’t use OCR in our industry. These industries are scanning not hundreds but millions of documents every day – that’s a crazy amount! And still, these industries aren’t using an OCR yet. We do need to scan a printed book page so we can edit it and use it in any article on our website.

This is what everyday OCR looks like.

  1. Printout– You must make the printouts as clear as possible to ensure the accuracy of your document. Ensure that you are not compromising legibility for clarity by alternating ink colors or printing light text on dark paper.
  1. Scanning– Use an optical scanner for printouts. You will need a sheet-feed scanner if you are using OCR, and this determines where pages are arranged on your page. Modern OCR programs will scan each page automatically or use flatbed scanners for one page at a time option of scanning, depending on what program you choose to use.
  2. Two-color- OCR (optical character recognition) relies on a black-and-white version of the scanned page. Fax machines use a similar process as scanning machines.
  3. OCR– The OCR programs process each image character by character, word by word, line by line. But in the 90’s you must have noticed that the OCR programs were slow enough to watch them reading. Now with modern speed software and massive hard drives, these are instantaneous.
  4. Primary error correction– Some programs allow you to review your documents for corrections and mistakes. An OCR program will highlight misspellings and recognize the mistyped text so you can fix it immediately. Better versions of these programs use near-neighbor analysis to find any other mistakes that may be missed, such as if two words are spelled similarly but mean different things.
  5. Layout analysis- A good OCR program allows you to search for a word or sentence across the text and will detect multiple columns of text, tables, images, etc.
  6. Proofreading– The best OCR programs are not always as accurate as human eyes, but the final stage is proofreading by a human. This is done in an old-fashioned way: reading through everything carefully for mistakes.

Conclusion

Install an OCR, and you’ll no longer have stacks of paper documents in your office. You can convert all your old data into digital format.

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