What is OCR?
Are you dealing with files that are handwritten, printed, or even soft copies that cannot be edited? Do you need those documents to be editable and sharable? The answer to your problem is OCR.
The meaning of OCR is Optical Character Recognition. It is widely used in the business world to help people scan texts and translate them into codes for data processing. So if you have digital images or even physical documents, OCR can help you with that.
We can also say that an OCR is a tool or technology that can extract information from any type of document and turn them into something editable and searchable. It should be a combination of both hardware and software. Hardware such as scanning machines with the help of a certain OCR Software can do the trick stated above.
There are a lot of OCR software available online. We will give you a glimpse of each platform as we continue to learn everything important about OCR.
OCR is commonly used in the following work activities:
- Invoice Processing
- Document Searchability
- Transcript Processing
- Sales Order Processing
- Indexing Print Materials
- Archiving Historic Information
- Electronically Depositing Checks for Banks
How Does OCR Work?
OCR works by digitizing your data through scanning any physical document and extracting all needed information and converting it to an editable file. It also works for soft copies that cannot be edited like PDFs.
Once you have scanned the physical document, or have the soft copy with you, an OCR software will convert the document into different versions. You will have white, black, and 2-colored versions. Each version plays a role in recognizing the optical characters. OCRs will recognize the dark areas as the characters while the light areas stand as the background. The software will then continue its process with the dark area. It will convert these dark areas into letters or numbers. Any OCR program targets to recognize letters, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs all at the same time giving sense to the whole thought of the document.
There are two types of OCR Algorithms by which characters are identified:
Recognizing Text through Patters
A normal OCR is fed with samples and general documents. These documents serve as patterns through which the OCR recognizes any text or characters. The software will compare the scanned text and the samples to finish converting the document.
Special Feature in Recognizing a Character
Each individual has his own way of writing. Documents have different font styles. An OCR has special features in recognizing the diversity in each possible character. These features recognize every possible curve, cross lines, and angle.
Please take note that once an OCR is finished converting, the end-user can still edit, proofread, and check if the document is one hundred percent correct before saving.
Advanced Use of OCR Technology
Believe it or not but OCR is not just for scanning documents and converting the files. Other big organizations use this technology for more advanced functions. Take a look at these advanced uses:
To speed up Identification
IDs and passports have a portion that can be scanned. It is Machine Readable Zone or MRZ. Once a machine scans it, OCR will speed up the identification of the person.
Use for Customer Engagement
In addition to the above statement, OCR does not just identify the user. Other companies use this to engage more with other people. For example, you use your card with your digital information like emails or phone numbers on a hotel, or casino. Later on, you may receive texts or emails with their promotions and campaigns.
Another example of this is the discount when you register at a certain shop. You will give you information to have the discount or you scan a voucher code. Little do you know that this technology is used to be more engaged with you.
Payment Processes on Banks
This is not the first time we include it in this article. Banks are the ones who use OCR the most nowadays. This type of technology helps banks to have better and more smooth transactions.
Some documents presented by bank clients have handwritten words or sentences. Even signatures are better off handwritten. OCR is the best way to recognize such documents. Other facial recognition software with OCR seems to be helpful for more security while using the ATM.
Best OCR Software
We have a few software to feature in this article. Each of them has its own specialty. You can choose which one suits your needs for converting and recognizing your files. Please take note that some of them are paid, but there are a few free.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC ($14.99 per month)
It has complete PDF solutions. Because of this, we can say that Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is one of the best.
OmniPage Ultimate by Kofax ($499 for one time Payment)
This Software is best known for processing a huge number of documents in real-time.
ABBYY FineReader PDF 15 (Standard = $199 one time payment; payment varies)
Best software for aligning the document and correcting sentences.
Readiris (payment amount varies)
Your top pick when converting text files to audio files.
One of the best free OCR tools.
Has a feature of detecting Gmail image spam
Microsoft OneNote ($69.99 per year)
Well-known for organizing your text notes.
Amazon Text Tract (Free up to 1000 Pages)
Best choice for scanning
Google Docs (Free)
Free service that is best to use for a small number of documents.
Your best choice if you are transacting invoices.
Benefits of OCR
- Helps you achieve your goal with minimal time
- It helps lessen errors in your data
- Compress documents into ZIP files to minimize the space
- Highlights keywords
- Helps you edit files
- Use to archive old documents
- Makes most of the work faster
- It can recognize all sorts of text like license plates
- Sorts documents for delivery
- Helps to put signed documents in your database
This type of technology is very much helpful in this fast-paced world. For businesses or personal use, OCR works its way to make some things easier.
Learning about this jumps us to the conclusion that this technology is worth the shot.
You can choose any software that you think is right for you. In our opinion, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, OmniPage Ultimate by Kofax, ABBYY FineReader PDF 15, and SimpleOCR are good choices.
With this, we hope that you’ve learned everything you need to know about OCR.