What is OCR
OCR, short for optical character recognition, is primarily a technology for creating machine-editable text from image files of scanned documents. When a document is scanned into a computer, it is saved as an image file like a PDF, TIFF, or JPG. Without using OCR software, that image is just an image to the computer, even though the user can read the text from it as if it were a document. Just because you can see text when looking at an image of a scanned document doesn't mean the computer can; the text has to be recognized and converted by OCR software in order to be machine-read and edited. The fact that the computer does not recognize a non-OCR scan of a document as text has drawbacks: the user cannot search nor edit the text of the non-OCR document. This is fine if the user has no need to perform these operations on the file, if he or she simply wishes to be able to view the document. However, when it comes to forms, invoice, and records processing, or document archiving, this is far from ideal.
This is where OCR comes in. OCR software is specifically designed to process scanned documents, recognize the text they contain, and use that information to create documents that are both searchable and editable. Some OCR programs can be quite precise, with some achieving accuracy rates of up to 98%. Current OCR software can also work quite rapidly depending on the machine on which it is run, and can handle large batches of scanned document files at a time.
The Many Applications of OCR Technology
Today, businesses in many industries make extensive use of OCR technology for document automation. Practically every company that deals with paper documents can benefit from OCR. Many businesses, aware of the environmental impact of wasteful paper use, and also just fed up with paper clutter, are moving towards the ideal of a paper-free office. OCR is one of the key tools for realizing this ideal.
It isn't just environmental concerns and clutter that drive businesses to automate their documents: documents created with OCR are actually more convenient than paper documents. Visually scanning though a large document to find a given piece of information can be very time consuming; with OCR documents all that is required is a simple keyword search. OCR'd documents can also be edited and saved in a matter of seconds. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of OCR documents is their ability to be shared instantaneously with many individuals regardless of their location.
While the ability to create machine-editable documents is one of the major advantages of OCR, sometimes only searchability is desired, especially when applied to archival documents. PDF has long been the standard for digital document storage and sharing, and is an excellent format choice for documents that must be able to be opened and read on many different machines and platforms. With OCR, you can create fully searchable PDF files, so that users can quickly perform searches of the text. Searchable PDF files are also well suited for document archival purposes.
How Does OCR Work?
OCR software begins by analyzing the light and dark areas of a scanned document in order to identify the alphanumeric characters it contains. Various algorithms for character identification are used, and once the text of a scanned document is identified, it is converted into machine-editable text. If an editable text document is desired, this text is exported into one and saved. If a searchable PDF is the goal, the text is superimposed as an invisible layer over the original document, allowing for searchability.
CVISION's OCR engine has been tested to be the most accurate OCR software on the market.