You may come to this site looking for OCR software, PDF Compression tools, or maybe it was a StumbleUpon. Maybe a friend said they used OCR and loved it, and you just had to Google it to find out what IT was. Unfortunately tech industries have the habit of making great technology visible to only those who know the acronyms and have a good idea of the benefits it can provide. Everyone can benefit from Optical Character Recognition. So lets break the barrier.
What is most important about the technology is not how it works, but the result it produces. Sometimes when people who are unfamiliar with scanners see the slew of document scanners I have they ask “why do you have so many printers”. Barrier one scanning. To OCR documents they need to come via email or some digital transfer as images, or more likely they are paper that needs to be scanned. We all get mail, some mail is junk some is useful. We all also have paper documents sitting around and in cabinets we need to keep for a rainy day. At the same time we annually increase the use of our computers and are creating many files on them. So at the very least, wouldn’t it be nice to take the useful mail, and other useful documents you have around: mortgage documents, nice letters, business cards, etc., and get them with all your other digital files? To do so you scan them, hopefully using a document scanner as it’s more efficient than a flatbed. Consumers are very used to the idea of scanning photos, scanning documents is no different except for the fact that you have more. A document scanner, not a printer but looks like one, allows you to batch documents and scan them to a folder on your computer without doing it one-by-one one side at a time like a flatbed scanner. . Now that you are scanning you have an image representation on your computer of your files right by all the other digital files you have. Now what? Now it’s time to get the data out and make them just as useful as all your other files.
Barrier number two OCR. It’s an acronym that stands for Optical Character Recognition, this does not tell you much, so forget about it and use it only to reference the process. Simply it’s just a helpful technology that gets text from images and converts them into a format you can use. OCR converts the image into usable text, so you can search for that nice letter, or you can edit that party invite and print it again. The result can be PDF, DOC, TEXT pretty much any format you can imagine.
Now coming full circle that good mail, and useful documents you have are not sitting somewhere cluttering up desks and drawers, they are with all your other files on your computer ready to use. OCR is useful to everyone, you just have to clear your mind of the techie talk and understand it’s value.
Chris Riley – Sr. Solutions Architect