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What is OCR (Optical Character Recognition) - The Most Complete Introduction

Imagine you were looking to digitize an article in a magazine, But it could take a long time to retype and then reprint the correct information. You could also transform all of the necessary materials to digital format in a while by using a scanner (or an electronic camera) and Optical Character Recognition software.

Now you might be thinking, What is OCR? This article will provide all the details about OCR, its advantages, and how you can get the most value from OCR.

What Is OCR?

The first question that arises here is what OCR stands for? So, OCR is "Optical Character Recognition." It is a method of detecting and examining the text on pages and converting the characters into code that can be used to manipulate data. In simple words, It is a technique to detect text in scanned document files and images.

OCR systems include software and hardware systems that convert physical documents into machine-readable text (electronic version.) 

Plus, users can edit the style, design, and analysis of the documents as if they were created using a word processor once the document is saved in OCR PDF format.

For example: If you scan a photo or document using the help of a printer, the printer will create a digital image file. The file can be PDF or JPG/TIFF, but the file created by the printer may remain just an impression of an original file. You can load the scan of the electronic document that contains the image and text into one of the OCR software. Then the OCR will detect the text and transform the document into an editable text file.

These digital versions of texts can be extremely beneficial for kids, especially adult readers who have difficulty reading. This is why digital text can be used by a variety of software applications to aid in comprehension. 

Let's dive into the depth of the topic and know how OCR works?

How Does Optical Character Recognition Work?

Optical character recognition works with scanners to process the hardcopy of documents. After copying all pages, OCR software converts the document to a two-color or black-and-white version.

The scanned image analyzed dark and light areas. The dark areas are classified as characters that require identification, and areas of light are classified as background.

These dark regions are processed to identify numerals or alphabetic letters. This is typically done by focusing on only one word, character, or text block simultaneously. Characters are then identified with any of the two methods:

  • Pattern recognition.
  • Feature recognition.

Pattern Recognition

Pattern recognition is used when the OCR application is supplied with text samples with various fonts and formats to identify and match the characters within the document or image files.

Feature Recognition

Feature detection happens as the OCR applies rules to the specific features of a numeral or letter to detect characters that are scanned into the document. It is a feature that can be identified by the amount of crossed lines, angled lines, and curvatures in characters.

For Example, Letter "A" appears as two straight lines intersecting a horizontal line that runs across the middle. If a character is recognized by a computer, it is transformed into the ASCII code (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), which computers use to process other modifications.

The OCR software also analyzes the structure of an image. It breaks the page down into parts, such as blocks of text, tables, or images. The lines are separated into words and then into characters. After the characters are isolated, the software analyzes them using a series of patterns. The software will present the matched text after processing the possible matches.

User Cases of Optical Character Recognition

In 2021, as everything is going digital and technologically advanced, OCR technology is being employed by various companies to improve efficiency in processes in the business, increase accessibility, and increase the satisfaction of customers.

Below are some of the well-known applications of OCR in the industry today.

OCR Technology In Health Department

OCR technology has proven to benefit healthcare professionals. In the health department, OCR technology allows patient medical histories to be accessible digitally by both doctors and patients.

Furthermore, the patient's records, such as their treatment, X-rays, blood test reports, hospital records, and insurance records, can be searched, scanned, and saved using OCR technology.

This is why optical character recognition can streamline the workflow and reduce hospital work while keeping medical records current.

OCR Technology In Communication

The most common use of OCR is digitizing documents and books, making human-to-human communication more efficient. One example of this can be Google Translate OCR technology which lets users translate any text into any language.

OCR Technology In Banking

One example of the use of OCR within the banking industry is the use of mobile banking apps where checks can deposit electronically and processed in a matter of days using OCR-based check depositing functions.

Another application of OCR within the banking sector is to keep track and analyze your customers' data, including personal and security data.

Banking transactions are characterized by a large quantity of data entry related to the bank statements. OCR-based technology can help keep workflow running smoothly with high accuracy for text recognition each time.

Additionally, OCR can also be beneficial in capturing sensitive information in pay slips and mortgage applications.

OCR Technology In Legal Affairs

It permits legal firms to print documents, such as affidavits, filings, judgments, wills, and statements, among others, digitalized.

OCR Technology In Insurance

OCR can also help the growing insurance industry. In particular, OCR can automate insurance claims processing to speed up transactions.

The Benefits of Optical Character Recognition

OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, provides various benefits, many of which were covered in the article. But, the most significant advantages of OCR are given below for information.

  • Accuracy: Software-based optical character recognition eliminates human error, resulting in better accuracy.
  • Affordable: OCR technology doesn't need a huge amount of resources, which decreases the cost of processing and consequently lowers the overall cost of a company.
  • Quick Processes: The technology converts unstructured data into searchable data, making the information more quickly and, consequently, speeding up business processes.
  • Improved customer satisfaction The availability of searchable information to customers will ensure a positive experience and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Last but not least, Enhances productivity: Accessibility of searchable data creates an accessible, stress-free environment for employees, allowing them to concentrate on the primary objectives, increasing the efficiency and productivity of any business.

As machine learning continues to develop, it expands beyond data capture and offers numerous applications across various industries.

Hope this article provides you with enough information about what does ocr mean. Stay tuned for more informative blogs!