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A Complete Beginner’s Guide to OCR: What Is It and What Is It Used For?

Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, is used to digitize archive printed documents, scan new documents, monitor and quality-control data entry, read car number plates, index digital documents, and assist people with visual impairment. These are a few of the applications using OCR but more are being developed as the technology improves.

If you read about the history of OCR, you will see that it was born from a need to digitize old newspapers and in such a way that you could search the text. Before OCR, you would have to re-type everything in the text so that it could be searchable. That is too time-consuming and impractical.

In this article, you will read about what OCR is and how it’s being used. When you read this article, you will see that what sounds like a simple idea is in fact a very lofty ambition to mimic some aspects of human intelligence.

Intelligent Vision

The average human being is endowed with many sophisticated abilities that we don’t give a second thought. That is until we start to try to mimic those abilities using computers. For example, we have the ability to read and recognize text.

We can understand different fonts and styles that are embedded within complex images. That type of intelligent vision happens automatically and it’s also self-learning. In other words the more we do it, the better we get at it.

Further, if we’re learning a new language we can learn to recognize new characters that may not even be from the Latin alphabet. OCR strives to do something similar, by recognizing the text within any image and extracting that text so that it can be further manipulated.

Principles of OCR

When it comes to the human OCR we’re fortunate enough to have the human eye. The eye is an incredible optic combined with a super powerhouse computer. This computer, that is the human brain, is still beyond complete understanding.

Computerized OCR requires the capturing of quality images. Those are then processed using sophisticated probability algorithms that match images against a library of templates.

The quality of the optic and the sophistication level of the software is what defines the price point. Many entry-level programs are free but if you want OCR c# or other types of high-level software you can expect to pay a price.

Many of these sophisticated programs follow the principles of integrity, purposefulness, and adaptability. In short, this means the software is looking for structural relationships within the image that are meaningful and which it can also use to learn and adapt.

Recognizable Text

Once your text is in a recognizable format, the sky is the limit with what you can do with it. You can edit it, automatically change it according to pre-written rules, delete part of it, or even trigger certain events. The point is that you can perform further sophisticated processing tasks depending on your objective.

For the most part, the average person using OCR will want to edit the document or search for certain keywords. Some platforms like Google have started automatically offering OCR when viewing pdf documents.

OCR Is an Eye Opener

In this article, you’ve read about OCR, what it is, and how it’s being used. What seems to be a simple scanning program is in fact just the tip of the iceberg. OCR is a highly sophisticated program that’s continuing to develop and as it does it’ll bring other exciting possibilities.

Check out other tech-related articles on our website that will make your eyes pop with wonder and amazement for human technology.


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