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Advantages of OCR – And What It Is

August 22, 2017

So perhaps you have some perception of what OCR is and what the advantages of OCR are but you’d like to more. Well you’ve come to the right place.

OCR or optical character recognition as it’s less widely known has been around in one form or another for around 20 years but as of late it has been getting more and more attention. This is mainly because of vastly improved accuracy rates.

To define OCR is a computer process which is able to read and translate characters that it sees on a flat documents such as a PDF or a JPG file and extract that data into a useable and readable format for the computer and of course yourself. To simplify, it extracts text data that it reads in the documents and makes it so that it can be searched through or copied, pasted or edited.

OCR is typically used by document scanning companies who are converting large amounts of documents on a daily basis for large and small companies that want to make their paperwork collection into a paperless archive. The trouble with going paperless is that, without OCR, the digital documents are just flat files with no means of searching or finding important information within them. This is what makes OCR a popular choice during this process. OCR is also used by those wanting to convert physical books and magazines to digital files.

As well as being very useful, OCR is also a relatively cheap process to complete as it is, for the most part, an automated process that the computer software that is used can process.

OCR software is available commercially across a variety of price ranges and with varying results. The cheaper software tends to have less successful OCR engines and therefore the accuracy isn’t anywhere near as good and the advantages of OCR become less. There is also an increasing amount of mobile based applications on both the Android and iOS platforms that allow the users to scan and OCR files from their mobile phones, but the quality of not just the scans but the OCR tends to be dreadful with these as of the current date.

Professional OCR providers and document scanning companies tend to use either very expensive and accurate software or they will develop their own, a very expensive process but one that can reap excellent results if they can offer a high accuracy rate. Current precise numbers typically from professional companies tend to be anything from 75-98% accuracy which is certainly amongst the best it’s ever been. Most documents that are clean and aren’t damaged or overly yellowed tend to have a very high accuracy rating as most OCR engines are able to read standard fonts from the last couple of hundred years. However all this doesn’t make OCR an expensive process.

Apart from those already explained the advantages of OCR can include a vast improvement in efficiency due to being able to search documents rather than having to look through physical paper based documents. In turn this saves time and, of course money and one of the other advantages of OCR is that it is known to boost staff morale as their working process is more streamlined and simpler to deal with.

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