What is OCR Technology? An Introduction to Optical Character Recognition 

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Remember that academic and university tests that you have attempted during exams in which you are asked to choose or fill the tiny circles? Yeah, everyone has gone through that.  

Also, you must have heard that these papers were checked by computers. It was the Optical Character Recognition OCR technology that was used to grade your paper. 

Not just this, OCR technology has become the necessity of a wide range of businesses and institutions. For example, whenever you need to scan a document like handwritten notes, receipts, statements from the bank, or any other text in the picture, OCR Technology is there for you. 

Back in the last decade or more, OCR technology was rare and quite expensive to afford but thanks to the digital computer world that has made it accessible to everyone. 

Although this technology has become famous in the market, there are still some companies that used to stick with manually entering data into their systems. 

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In this article, you will learn the following:

  • What is OCR? 
  • How OCR technology works? 
  • What are the advantages of using OCR? 
  • Some industrial uses of OCR 
  • Final thoughts

What is OCR? 

In case if you had never come across this term before, let’s just understand first, what is OCR. 

“OCR or Optical Character Recognition is an advanced image processing technology that is designed to recognize the written words inside a picture and then extract it into a digital form”.

OCR has gained the most popularity in document management in businesses where it can lead to boost your business productivity by saving a lot of time. 

How OCR technology works? 

Imagine if you have to type a document from paper manually into digital form. How hectic and time-consuming it sounds, right? 

Moreover, there are more chances of making errors in the process when you type manually. 

Other than that, a traditional technique for copying the text is an ordinary scanner or photocopy machine that is restricted to hard documents alone.

To scan or remodel text from camera images, OCR technology comes in handy that will extract every letter from text in picture and generate a copy of it. More than that, it allows you to scan whole sentences from the image on your screen. 

The OCR technology takes a close look at each line and ensures that every letter or number is figured and scanned accurately. 

OCR technology process in two phases

  1. Preprocessing/ detection phase 

In the first phase, an algorithm detects the textual part of text from the picture and makes it clearer, easier and understandable. 

The logic behind this is cleaning up everything behind the picture and the text characters from it. 

After completion of this phase, the text turned out to be in a properly aligned form with smooth pixels. 

  1. Recognition phase

 In the second phase, another algorithm is used for text recognition that is basically dependent on the first step.

During this, the OCR software is working on isolating each single character, recognizing them along with the pixels and spaces between them.

So, basically both these algorithms integrate and give you extracted text from any picture in seconds. 

Although there are a tremendous number of OCR tools you can find online, the accuracy of these digital applications is based on the following features. 

  • Accuracy of character recognition 
  • Page layout reconstruction reliability 
  • Multi-engine voting system 
  • Language handling 
  • Sortable PDF results 
  • Speed 
  • UI support 

Now, you must have an idea of what is OCR and how it works. Let’s dive into its benefits here. 

What are the advantages of using OCR? 

OCR technology can be an unsung hero in your business process management (BPM). You can digitize and decode any document in your workflow by integrating this technology. 

Just like Dropbox and Google, Prepostseo offers OCR tool that provides quick results in no time. It helps in routine tasks like printing, scanning, proofreading etc.

  1. Document printing 

First of all, everyone wants his existing document in a better printout version. 

For this, they often go for photocopying but OCR tools would enhance the contrast between the paper and print. 

Not enough with that, your document will be free of dirty markings, folds, and inkblots that can raise the risk of inaccuracy and wrong terms in your paper. 

  1. Make scanning easy 

It is a fact that scanning with the flatbed scanner is time taking as it entails scanning all one by one.

On the other hand, the OCR tool has made scanning much easier because it searches the next page automatically and saves you time. 

  1. Range of colors

OCRs scan almost everything in front of it. It works by detecting black and white color in the original picture first, after that it performs a color scan. 

If a stain occurs on the original, the OCR will spot the change in color by changing the lighting on the black and white version. 

OCRs would not perform correctly to distinguish color streaks, spots, or other unusual colors without this crucial first step.

  1. 4. Proofreading 

It is one of the most useful features of any OCR scanner. OCR scanners can help to remove human errors in writing even if they are not as broad as a human brain. 

An OCR scanner will show you recommendations that allow you to write better while writing on the computer e.g. Microsoft Word.

  1. Keep the structure of the text same

An excellent OCR scanner detects many text, tables, and images automatically. These picture text formats are then converted into digital text and tables are quickly extracted into columns. 

  1.  Helps to manage online workflow 

OCR tools might be used to manage accounting activities for business processes. 

A strong OCR software helps to integrate and expand document-based information into the interactive operations of an organization. 

Some industrial uses of OCR technology 

OCR technology has various uses in different industries. Here are some practical uses or benefits of OCR technology;

  • Maintaining and keeping medical records 

Optical Character Recognition technology in the health sector can be used to keep all the medical histories and records of patients in digital form. 

Public health sectors are also using OCR tools to retrieve patient details quickly for better diagnosis of underlying medical problems. 

This helps the authorized staff or medical professionals to access details quickly such as the history of patients or clinical appointments and treatments etc. 

  • Identification of online persona 

OCR is used for online identity tests across a wide variety of companies, including e-gaming, Fintech, e-commerce, and retail, across a wide variety of sectors. 

Here, OCR helps to retrieve details from records which is a good way to verify consumer identities easily and reliably. 

It not only guarantees that real customers are enrolled in the organization but also ensures a smooth overall customer experience.

  • Reporting utility meters

Utility companies had to come to your door for taking and recording meter readings manually. That seems to be time taking and inconvenient for customers. 

But OCR technology allows you to scan your meter reading by using an OCR tool and sending it to your utility supplier. 

Final thoughts about OCR 

We are living in an age where old and traditional OCR techniques have failed in providing digital documents accurately. 

That traditional OCRs have been replaced by modern AI-powered OCR tools to give more authenticity to your work for which it is better known as Intelligent Characters Recognition ICR. 

Intelligent Character Recognition works so excellently that you might find new opportunities to excel in your digital presence. 

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