Defining OCR Technology
In computing terms, the term OCR refers to the Optical Character Recognition technology. This technology encompasses the process of translating images for typewritten, printed, or handwritten text using electronic or mechanical procedures. The method of data capture implemented by OCR technology is via the use of scanning devices. The resulting electronic document more often than not is translated into a machine editable format. OCR has served as the foundation for more modern technologies like intelligent systems and automated form processing. The use of this technology in the field of archiving and document management automation is likewise valuable. Through the emerging technologies derived from OCR, focuses on implementation of the techniques in medicine, digital imaging, and other areas of expertise has been made possible. The emergence and acceptance of the OCR technology has also led to a drastic reduction in the cost of deployment, and implementation for both its hardware and software components.
Tracing the OCR History
The patent for OCR implementation was received by Gustav Tauschek sometime in 1929 in Germany. In the U.S., the patent was issued to Handel in 1933. A similar patent was issued to Tauschek in the U.S. in 1935 based on his OCR implementation method. This early technology made use of the combination of templates and photodetector mechanisms. The process of acquiring the image relied on the aligning of the two elements to extract the character, based on the light passed onto the photodetector. One of the breakthroughs for OCR technology came during the 1950s, when the US Armed Forces needed to develop a solution for the conversion of printed documents into machine understandable format. This requirement was needed for the data automation activities of the department. Based on this, the IMR (Intelligent Machines Research) created the initial batch of OCR equipments for commercial implementation. These machines made use of image analysis algorithms, rather than character matching processes to allow for font variations in extracting textual data.
Impact of the OCR Technology
Although earlier systems based on the OCR technology needed specialized training for the user, newer systems can be operated by personnel with basic computer knowledge. Evolving from the different character recognition methods, these systems can be easily and readily deployed in almost any type of computing environment. The impact of this technology was first seen in 1955 with its commercial implementation in Readers Digest. This system now sits in the Smithsonian where it remains on display. From that point on, the technology has been a critical element in the documentation, archiving, and conversion procedures of different establishments and organizations.