Have you ever thought about the number of archived boxes and paper-based documents that companies keep over the years?
How many times have you desired to get an editable file instead of the traditional piece of paper you can’t work with? Let’s imagine you have a magazine article or a simply PDF and want to digitize it. Sure, you can scan the document and have it on your computer, but it won’t be editable, and you can’t make the needed changes in it. That’s when OCR software technology comes in to make your life easier. This technology helps not just digitizing documents but also improving data accessibility and enhancing file security.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR), came up as an innovative and accurate solution for digitization and is being used by different industries nowadays. OCR software technology can turn any device into a portable scanner that converts paper-based documents such as scanned paper, PDF files, and even images taken by a digital camera into searchable and editable data. Since it’s the best way to make information available to anyone at one click, more and more industries are using OCR software technology to make their business more efficient. Do you think OCR might have something to offer for your business? Keep reading, we’ll go behind the scenes to understand how OCR works!
How Exactly Does OCR Software Technology Work?
The three fundamental principles that allow humans to recognize objects are integrity, purposefulness, and adaptability (IPA). These are the OCR principles that enable OCD software to reproduce human-like recognition.
So, how does OCR technology recognize text?
- Analyzes the structure of the image or a snapshot.
- Splits the page information into elements.
- Divides those into words and then into characters.
OCR software compares those scanned characters with a set of pattern images. Then, the program makes numerous hypotheses about what the characters are. Based on those, it analyzes different variants of line breakage into words and characters. After processing lots of probabilities and hypotheses, the system makes a decision and gives us the recognized text.
Broadly speaking, there are two ways or algorithms that OCR technology uses to recognize printed data within an image. Let’s take a closer look at both possible approaches:
Pattern recognition is also known as pattern matching or matrix matching. Using this algorithm allows technological devices to recognize a wide range of printed text by comparing scanned objects with a library of characters stored in the software. When the OCR finally finds shapes that match its references, it will start recognizing the information completely and you will get an editable file with hardly any mistakes. The “but” of this approach is that it cannot detect handwritten text but for those cases, OCR creates a more complex and advanced algorithm.
Feature detection is best known as feature extraction or intelligent character recognition (ICR). It’s the most advanced and sophisticated algorithm for OCR technology. The best feature is that it isn’t constrained to a number of fonts. It also can be programmed to detect handwritten text. Features detection also works using character recognition but through a set of rules for each character that makes it possible to detect individual component features such as angled or crossed lines in which some characters are made. It’s more accurate because it decomposes each character into a feature.
Why Do Today’s Businesses Use OCR Software?
OCR software technology is being used by several industries that are marred by problems as data unusability, inaccuracy, and loss. There are many ways that OCR technology has been helping industries such as healthcare, human resources, finance, and insurance, by revolutionizing data and storage processes. Digitizing and sharing files to prevent common user-errors.
Storing information is important for almost any business, but can you imagine how much it would help public services and governmental companies? Retrieving invoices is also easier when technology is on your side. But the magic doesn’t finish here, almost every industry you can think of, could greatly take advantage of OCR benefits. Let’s take a look at the common ones so you can realize how much you can improve your operational efficiency and customer satisfaction by making unstructured data searchable.
5 Main Advantages of Using an OCR
Benefit #1: Data Access, Searchability and Usability
OCR has increased data accessibility in a huge way. After scanning and converting the information to any editable format such as MS Word or Adobe PDF, the software lets you store or copy the file wherever you want, what it means is that files then can be searched on your company system and anyone with permission, could access it. The banking industry and trading companies are highly benefited from it. Reviewing past records, payment receipts, credit history and so on wouldn’t be easy without ORC technology.
However, there’re more benefits here than you can imagine. Getting access to the information is a big step but being able to modify it is essential. This is particularly important for human resources or sales departments because they can easily search, access the information and modify whatever is necessary instead of typing again the entire document.
Benefit #2: Time and Storage Saving
Say goodbye to the traditional system full of filing cabinets. Storing in the cloud is the way to go if you want to have searchable information and save some money as well. Managing paper-based information is an inefficient and pointless task unless your business absolutely requires you to store physical and original files. This process is one of the most time-consuming and is rather expensive. But the worst part about doing this manual work is the big possibility of human error. Accessing digital data is faster and improves companies’ workflows. By using an OCR, companies can reduce manual steps in data managing and reduce errors or omissions. It is particularly valued by insurance companies due to the high number of documents they have to work with every single day.
Benefit #3: Improves Customer Satisfaction
Improving customer experience is a place every company wants to reach, and OCR can truly help with that. Let’s think about the customer support area where agents are receiving calls or emails with inquiries all the time. By using OCR software technology, they are able to picture all the services the client has with the company because the information is available at one click. They would be able to process cases instantly. It not just improves the time spent on each case but also allows customer support to deal with any problem requiring immediate resolution.
Benefit #4: Top-Notch Translation
Interconnected world and globalization demand top-notch translation tools and modern OCR is capable of managing a wide range of languages – even the less common. What simplified computer translation while giving you accurate information. It not only saves time but also money because translators are not needed for simple document translation, your OCR software can do it for you.
Benefit #5: Enhancing Security
Digital environments demand security-enhancing, especially for sensitive information managed by police departments, civil institutions or just for processing personal data. OCR technology is programmed to prevent fraud attempts by comparing provided information with stored data with a minimum of error, something that couldn’t be done manually.
5 Popular OCR Use-Cases by Industry
Today, many applications integrate OCR in their systems to help streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction. Let’s go over some of the examples and understand how different industries benefit from OCR technology.
OCR Technology in Banking
Banking and related industries as securities and insurance are considered as one of the major consumers of OCR. Every day more and more manual and repetitive tasks are disappearing and being replaced by a digital version of themselves. Of course, more sophisticated and technological. The banking industry has been traditionally paper-based and somewhat lagging behind in the race to ditch paper. Most of their relevant documents such as customer records, checks, and monthly statements used to be physical but OCR technology is revolutionizing the industry. Today, it’s easy to verify a check and a signature in real-time just by scanning it through an app that uses OCR technology, preventing fraud and increasing accuracy. These amazing features are enhancing security, making easier data-management and improving the customer experience.
OCR Technology in Traveling
OCR features are making your travels easier and you don’t even notice. Most airports and travel applications use OCR for security and data storage purposes. From scanning your passport to saving your personal data when you’re booking a flight or a hotel, all those features wouldn’t exist without OCR technology by our side. It’s also an incredible way of reducing human error because OCR software can offer much more accuracy than human reading. From the booking and check-in process to the travel expense management, there are hundreds of applications using OCR to transform the travel and tourism industry.
OCR Technology in Government
Few industries generate as much paper-based information as government and legal industries. That’s the reason why OCR has been changing the way in which legal and governmental documents from millions of persons, countries are accessed. The way in which the processes such as voting, registration and search information used to be done are changing as well due to OCR. One good example of this industry integrated with OCR software is Register 2 Vote. This application came to life with the use of cross-platform mobile development – allowing users to register when voting in the local and national U.S. elections directly from their mobile devices.
The process of registering for users is straightforward in the app. They can take a picture of their driver’s license for identity confirmation, using their smartphones or electronic device camera. The integration of OCR technology in the app makes the whole process smooth and fast – fulfilling the main goal of the app, which is encouraging participation in the elections by simplifying the registration process.
What is OCR technology used for this application? If a user had to fill in their information in the app, from their full name, date of birth, and more, they might have quit halfway through. But with Register 2 Vote, they can just take a picture of their ID card and vote. The technology makes it possible for the app to read and identify the images.
OCR Technology in Food Industry
There is more than one way in which OCR software technology is helping the food industry. Since accelerating time response times, improve productivity to simplify the products and increase customer satisfaction. However, there are some applications that don’t just help the industry themselves but also their users. Wine Glass, gives its users the know-how of a seasoned wine connoisseur right in their pockets. How? Users can take a picture of a wine list at a restaurant of a bar and upload it to WineGlass, which, on its turn, will scan the image and provide an interactive wine menu immediately. By using OCR image processing algorithms and computer processing algorithms, they can digitize their menus in minutes.
On the other hand, RecipeIQ is a nutrition calculator app that has a database of more than 7,300 ingredients where users can take a screenshot of their offline recipe, upload it to the app and get the nutritional information about their meals. The platform then pulls ingredients to calculate their combined nutritional value by using an advanced database search algorithm.
OCR Technology in Healthcare
The healthcare industry is well benefited with OCR software technology. By using it, medical providers can get medical histories at just one click. It’s always stored in the software and anyone with permission could access the data such as past illness, treatments, and hospital records. OCR technology is also used to keep up to date with logistics and consumables.
What is the most critical factor in any business and startup today? User satisfaction and data usability. Hopefully, you found the answer to your question of what OCR software is used for and how it can be used in almost any industry. We could say that its main aim is to make user’s lives easier and streamline processes. Want to integrate custom OCR in your already existing application? We can help you with that. Have a new app idea and want to build from scratch? Let’s build you a great platform with OCR software.