If you work in an office equipped with a document scanner, you have probably thought more than once about Optical Character Recognition (OCR). But what is OCR? And what is it used for? This article explains what OCR means and covers the most popular use cases.
What is OCR?
Literally, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. It is a widespread technology to recognize text inside images, such as scanned documents and photos. OCR technology is used to convert virtually any kind of image containing written text (typed, handwritten, or printed) into machine-readable text data.
OCR Technology became popular in the early 1990s while attempting to digitize historic newspapers. Since then the technology has undergone several improvements. Nowadays solutions deliver near to perfect OCR accuracy. Advanced methods like Zonal OCR are used to automate complex document-based workflows.
What is OCR Used For? Popular Use-Cases for OCR
Probably the most well-known use case for OCR is converting printed paper documents into machine-readable text documents. Once a scanned paper document goes through OCR processing, the text of the document can be edited with word processors like:
- Microsoft Word
- Google Docs
Before OCR technology was available, the only option to digitize printed paper documents was by manually re-typing the text. Not only was this massively time-consuming, but it also came with inaccuracy and typing errors.
OCR is often used as a “hidden” technology, powering many well-known systems and services in our daily life. Less known, but as important, use cases for OCR technology include data entry automation, indexing documents for search engines, automatic number plate recognition, as well as assisting blind and visually impaired persons.
OCR technology has proven immensely useful in digitizing historic newspapers and texts that have now been converted into fully searchable formats and had made accessing those earlier texts easier and faster.
Do Banks use Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?
In this fast-paced world, the bank is one of those institutions that use OCR the most. Document digitization in the banking sector is a great utility. Many banks use OCR technology in achieving better transaction security and risk management.
The use of OCR software in banks can also scan many customers’ important handwritten guarantee documents like their loan documents and more. Additionally, the incorporation of facial recognition software with OCR is also significantly remarkable because it provides two-layer security at ATMs.
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