Optical Character Recognition – Making Scanned Files Machine-Readable  

The process of converting old paperwork into a digital form, especially to make it available to your computer, is known as scanning. Today, the process of scanning is easily possible through built-in scanners in printers or by using mobile apps that are made for the same purpose. Unlike a printer that prints out images into blank sheets, scanners convert an image to a digital copy which can be saved on a memory card, a USB, or as a computer file. Instead of piling up paperwork, companies can eliminate challenges such as storage space, increased manual work by simply backing up these files in a cloud or just by digitally storing them. With that being said, can the scanning process be further optimized? The answer is YES.

An Introduction to Optical Character Recognition

Storing an image digitally does not automatically make it machine-readable. With the help of new technologies, the text present in a document can be accurately read and searched. This has become possible because of the Optical Character Recognition OCR Technology system. Let’s take a closer look into this.

What Is Meant By Optical Character Recognition?

OCR, short for Optical Character Recognition, is one of the latest technologies developed for the purpose of scanning files and documents. By using this technology, the text present in the scanned documents becomes readable and searchable, making it seem like it was digitally encoded in the system. In simple terms, the scanned documents are images seen by computers in the form of bit-mapped files, filled with black dots. But OCR has the ability to recognize and make sense of the black dots by relating them to specific characters, like alphabetical letters or numbers. 

What is Optical Character Recognition Softwares?

OCR  softwares, or Optical Text Recognition softwares, offer the ability to make documents readable and searchable in order to allow the text to be selected, copied, edited, or reviewed as if it were live text. These softwares, which are also found in Character Recognition Apps in smartphones, make it easier for individuals and businesses to manage all the paperwork. The next section discusses how OCR works.

The OCR Process

An optical Character Recognition software is equipped with an in-built optical scanner that enables the text to be read and analyzed. Most systems combine hardware and software to recognize characters within the text. Suppose you have a lot of text present in a JPG image and you need to convert it into a TXT file. This can be easily accomplished through OCR technology in a single click. Financial institutions and banks often use OCR softwares for the purpose of Identity Verification of their customers. The 4 simple steps involved are listed below:

  1. End-users upload or display an ID document verification in front of the camera
  2. Information from the ID document, such as their full name or DoB, is automatically extracted through OCR  
  3. The user is shown an option to add more information or make other edits
  4. Extracted details and results are sent back to the client 


Additionally, it is important to know what kinds of documents are supported by OCR softwares today:


  • Unstructured Documents


These kinds of documents do not have any predefined format. Examples include

  1. Hand-Written Documents
  2. Receipts
  3. Paper Invoices
  4. Official Paper-Based Letters
  5. Old Paper-Based Business Records


  • Structured Documents


These include standard, structured documents like:

  1. Government-Issued ID Cards
  2. Passport
  3. Drivers License
  4. Legal Filings
  5. Tax Documents
  6. Utility Bills
  7. Bank Checks
  8. Financial statements

How Important is the OCR Technology?

The advantages of OCR technology to have your images converted are countless. Similar to the benefits of having your document scanned, OCR technology enhances a company’s filing system and saves a lot of time, effort, and money. In short, here are the benefits of using OCR softwares:

  1. Makes it possible for users to copy-paste the text into scanned documents
  2. Enables editing in PDF files 
  3. Easily accessible 
  4. Leads to employee efficiency by saving time
  5. Easy extraction of the business card information 
  6. Automatic recognition of number plates

Final Words

Back in the olden days, extraction of data from scanned documents was close to impossible unless it was done manually. Thanks to the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, it has become a reality with the help of OCR softwares. Such software makes it easy for users to extract information regardless of their structured or unstructured format and allows it to be stored on data servers, eliminating hurdles like storage space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *