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What is OCR and How is it Beneficial?

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OCR for ReceiptsWhat do you think you can do when you want to digitize a printed contract or some similar document? Well, a traditional option is to spend hours retyping and then rectifying misprints. Other option is to convert the document in digital format within a few minutes by using a scanner and the optical recognition software.

What is Optical Recognition Software (OCR)?

OCR or optical recognition software is a technology that allows you to convert various types of documents such as invoices, receipts, contracts, PDF files and even scanned paper documents or images captured by a digital camera into editable data.

Suppose you have a paper document, such as a receipt, brochure, a magazine article or a PDF contract sent by your partner by email. Clearly, a scanner cannot make this information available for editing. All it can do is to create an image of the document which is just a collection of black and white dots, called a raster image. For extracting and repurposing data from scanned documents, you need OCR for receipts, brochures etc. that would take out letters on the image, convert them into words and thereby allowing you to access and edit the data in the original document.

Technology behind OCR

The exact system that enables humans to identify objects is still unknown. But three basic principles have been identified by scientists – integrity, purposefulness and adaptability (IPA). These principles are used in OCR enabling it to replicate natural or human-like identification.

The general process is that, first the program analyses the structure of the document image. The page is divided into elements like tables, texts, images etc. Lines are broken into words and words into characters. Once characters are taken out, the software compares them to a set of pattern images and applies various hypotheses regarding what the character is. Based on these hypotheses, the software analyses different variants of separating of lines into words and words into characters. After processing numerous such probable hypotheses, the software at last decides and presents you the identified text.

The software also has a dictionary support in various languages which facilitates secondary analysis of the text elements on word level.

Benefits of Using OCR

With OCR, recognized document looks exactly like the original. A powerful, advanced OCR enables you to save a lot of time and effort while forming, processing and repurposing different documents. Thus you can scan paper documents for further editing and for sharing with your partners and colleagues.

All in all, you can see how useful OCR is. Make the most of it to make your professional life easier and more convenient.

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