Well they are all software, perhaps the better comparison is in-line OCR vs. PC based OCR. In any case, there is an important differences between the two. What I’m talking about are two very different modes of OCR ( Optical Character Recognition ) . One is done at a very fast rate on documents or images as they are scanned, the other is done after the scanning and achieved by PCs or Servers. When someone is referring to OCR, they are most likely discussing the software that is installed on a PC to convert image to text. Let’s look at the differences between the two.
In-line OCR is used primarily for mail-room processing on high speed high volume scanners, or on manufacturing assembly lines. Both scenarios need data from the input asset quickly. The benefit’s of in-line OCR is it’s the fastest OCR around. Usually the OCR is apart of firmware, and optimized for speed. If you imagine an assembly line of bottles, the bottles pass the camera at millisecond time. To wait for OCR would be a huge bottleneck in the quality control and inventory process. The downside to in-line OCR is accuracy. Usually in the case of the assembly line the engine has been so tuned that it is extremely accurate for a single image type. Where accuracy is proven to be less, is when it comes to document scanning, the digital mail-room. In the digital mail-room the in-line OCR, in order to be as fast as it is, must be an engine that is reduced in complexity, namely removing document analysis and reading of complex fonts. Because of this, when documents are scanned the accuracy cannot compare to that of PC based OCR.
PC based OCR has the benefit of scalability. It can work on the widest range of document types. Also because it’s using the PC, it has the latest and greatest technologies that work on degraded documents and complex documents. The downside of PC based OCR is that it’s not as fast as in-line. 99.9% it is fast enough. Many times PC based OCR is used at document scanner rated speed of 60 pages a minute. This is plenty fast for those who’s primary concern is quality. It is not fast enough for machine to machine hand-off’s, but this is not its primary use.
You may never encounter in-line OCR, but knowing about the technology helps understand the world of recognition and applications of such technology.
Chris Riley – AboutFind much more about document technologies at www.cvisiontech.com.