How Accurate is OCR?

a person scanning a document with their phone using optical character recognition

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the use of technology to convert handwritten or image text from human-understandable to machine-readable form. The accuracy of OCR systems relies on the correlation between hardware and software to accomplish their task. The hardware makes data from scanned images of text or documents while the software handles the processing.

How Does OCR Work?

The process through which OCR hand converts human-readable data to machine-readable is actually quite simple and follows the steps below:

1. Image Acquisition

This is the first step where the scanner processes a document or image of text into binary form. The OCR software then analyzes the scanned object to determine the dark areas that are classified as characters and light areas as background.

2. Preprocessing

In the next step, the OCR software cleans up the scanned image to remove errors and prepare it for reading. Some of the image cleaning techniques employed include:

  1. Use of OCR technology for multi-language script recognition.
  2. Slightly tilting the image being scanned to fix any alignment issues.
  3. Cleaning up boxes and lines in the image.
  4. Ensuring the edges of the text image are smooth and eliminating any digital spots.

3. Text Recognition

The next step involves the use of an algorithm to recognize text. There are two main types of algorithms used in OCR systems for text recognition:

Pattern Matching

With pattern matching, OCR systems are fed and stored with already defined fonts and formats of characters. The system then uses its database to recognize data by comparing patterns to stored fonts and formats.

It only works if the scanned text is similar in font and scale to the stored data. The method works best with scanned documents that were written in a known font.

Feature Detection

With feature detection, the OCR system sets some rules regarding the features of a specific character that are later used to identify the character in a scanned document. Some preset features include lines, angled lines, crossed lines, closed loops, and line direction.

a digital image of a person clicking on a document icon

4. Post Processing

After identifying the intended character, it’s converted into a computerized file and stored for further manipulation. It’s important that after scanning, the document is proofread to eliminate any errors before storing the file for future use. Some advanced OCR systems create both the original and edited versions of the scanned document.

Advantages of Using OCR

The use of OCR has proven to be very useful over the years. Some of the benefits of OCR are as follows:

1. Enhances Operational Efficiency

Using OCR within your business will likely make your digits’ workflow more efficient. Using OCR will also make your data entry process simpler and more efficient.

 Some of the functions performed to enhance operational efficiency include:

  • You can scan hand-filled forms to provide automated and immediate reviews, edits, and analyses. This will, in turn, save time on various manual operations.
  • It will also help you easily search for specific information instead of manually combing through heaps of files.
  • You can convert handwritten entries to softcopy that is easier to edit and store safely.
  • You can easily update information, ensuring your clients have up-to-date information.

2. Searchable Text

The accuracy of OCR systems enables your business to convert both previous and current documents to digital form without errors, creating a solid knowledge archive. You can also automatically process the text database using data analytics software to broaden your knowledge archive.

3. Improves Security

The use of OCR systems helps to completely digitize your document storage, improving its safety and security. Data stored digitally is less prone to damage or loss than data stored manually.

a man scans a document with his phone that is using OCR

Applications of OCR

Today the use of OCR is widespread, with several industries employing the use of OCR to make their operations more efficient. Examples of industries that employ OCR include:

Healthcare

In the healthcare industry, the obvious use of OCR systems is to keep records of patients. The accuracy of OCR systems helps ease and reduce workflow in the facilities, reducing operational costs and the amount of labour required. It also helps ensure records are kept up to date and easily shared among interested parties.

Finance

In the financial industry, OCR accuracy ensures quick and efficient approval and review of documents. The system processes checks and keeps records of numerous transactions. It also enhances the verification of documents to prevent fraud.

Logistics

In logistics, OCR accuracy enables you to keep track of records more efficiently. Manually storing information is often time-consuming, and there’s a high risk of damage.

Get a Quote Today

Contact us at Busy.ca for the best OCR solutions. Our experienced technicians will work with you to find the best OCR option to fit your needs. Leveraging the accuracy of OCR enables us to provide unparalleled business solutions in our document management solution packages.

Consult us today to learn more on how to take advantage of OCR for increased productivity at your workplace.

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