Posts and articles addressing OCR accuracy and how to improve OCR results with optimal scanner settings, recognition parameters, and OCR-friendly document design.

What are the best scanner settings for OCR?

Most OCR applications are optimized for 300 dots per inch resolution images.

While color is supported and most often performs better than black & white images, OCR algorithms will generally convert the color to B&W automatically as part of the OCR process. With color input, the dynamic conversion usually produces the best result, but not always.

Especially when an image contains stray markings, stamps, notes, colored paper or other elements that can throw off the binarization process, OCR results can be improved by paying careful attention to image processing settings and using a pristine black & white image for OCR instead of a color scan.

In forms processing and handprint recognition applications, guide marks in the form can often be removed during the scanning process, improving the OCR results when the software doesn’t have to distinguish between the form background and the words being recognized.

Using drop-out forms, traditionally printed in red or green and then scanned with a corresponding red or green light, automatically removes the form background during scanning and leaves only the text to be recognized. This can dramatically improve recognition results, especially for handprinted data.

Older, black & white scanners would require you to change out the lamps in order to perform color drop-out. All but the least expensive modern color scanners have the ability to enable drop-out colors in the scanner driver.

Advanced forms processing applications can perform color drop-out on-the-fly with scanned color images. Though this is generally not quite as accurate as scanning with a drop-out lamp enabled, it has the advantage of retaining a full-color original copy of the image with the form element and labels visible.

Can OCR be trained for specific fonts?

OCR training was once a critical part of the conversion process. After a document was read, the operator would review the results to correct mistaken characters and these corrections would be used to train the engine so the next time you read a similar document the results are improved.

Modern OCR applications no longer rely on user training for accuracy unless you have very non-standard fonts. These engines have had decades of development and billions of samples used to train their algorithms. In most cases, the introduction of user training will only diminish the results for any documents that are different than the ones being trained.

The training functions still exist for these edge cases, but they are no longer an integral part of the OCR process.

Training in modern OCR is more likely to refer to enterprise data capture applications that use AI-based learning algorithms to find the locations of data points on documents with various different formats, such as invoices.

Creating forms optimized for handprint recognition

Handprint recognition applications can provide dramatically different results in terms of accuracy depending on whether the form is designed with intelligent character recognition (ICR) in mind.

Forms Processing applications like ABBYY FlexiCapture have a built-in form design tool with ICR-optimized field layout elements and rules that validate whether your form uses best practices for recognition. These forms can be automatically converted to recognition templates for scanning for data capture. This saves you dozens of hours of trial and error during the design process and even more in data entry once the filled in forms are collected.

Best practice recommendations for ICR and OCR forms include:

  • Plenty of space between form elements and labels, at least 0.5cm / 0.25in
  • Use drop out colors for form backgrounds when possible
  • Hand printed characters should be constrained with boxes or combs to force filler to write legible, separated, printed characters
  • Use check boxes instead of handprint when possible since these are nearly 100% accurate
  • Use numeric codes instead of alphanumeric text when possible to reduce the number of possible characters and increase accuracy
  • Use validation rules to check against possible values and flag data with incorrect values
  • Check box fields can be used to verify the presence of signatures

Why are the prices of OCR applications so different?

OCR software ranges in price from freeware all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars. What explains the difference between these applications? Here’s the breakdown:

  • OCR Freeware uses the SimpleOCR or Tesseract engines and provide limited scanning and output format capabilities. Recognition quality is generally poor except for the highest quality document images.
  • PDF OCR Converters provide good quality OCR engines like ABBYY, IRIS and OmniPage, but limit the output to searchable PDF files. These cost less than $100.
  • Standard OCR applications range from $100-$200 and provide full OCR capabilities including converting scans to Word, Excel, HTML and other editable formats.
  • Corporate OCR applications add advanced features like automated hotfolder processing, concurrent licensing and other features useful for business applications. Pricing for these is $200-$500.
  • OCR Servers provide scalable, enterprise OCR services for processing very high volumes of documents or providing OCR capabilities to users throughout the organization. Prices start around $1,500 and go up based on processing volume.
  • Enterprise Data Capture and Forms Processing applications are used to capture structured data from complex documents like healthcare claim forms and invoices that include things like tables, handwriting, checkboxes, and movable zones. These solutions can cost anywhere from around $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the document volume and complexity of the project.

OCR Guide

Optical Character Recognition

During your foray into the world of document scanning, you’ve likely encountered the term “OCR” and may even know that it stands for “Optical Character Recognition“. But what exactly is OCR and how can you make the best use of this sophisticated and valuable tool?

We’re here to give you a run-down of what you need to know about Optical Character Recognition, answer any questions you might have, and recommend the best OCR software solution for your scanning project.

Table of Contents:

What is OCR?

What Is OCR Barcode Scanning Recognition SoftwareThe primary purpose of Optical Character Recognition  is to quickly and automatically scanned or photographed document images into machine readable text that can be searched for keywords or edited in a word processor.

In general, an OCR engine analyzes the pixel data of scanned images and searches for patterns resembling letters, numbers, and other symbols to create a digitized record of characters.

The biggest OCR engines employ huge Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) models that have been trained on billions of documents collected over decades of development.

While the exact mechanics of this process can be complicated, OCR engines are a key automation tool for the digital age. It bridges the gap between knowledge stored on physical documents and digital data that can be edited, searched or parsed into structured data to automate data entry tasks.

OCR Output Types

Search Document OCR Recognized TextFull Page OCR converts the entire document into one of the following formats:

    […]

IRIS OCR

IRIS is a Belgian company that is the developer of one of the world’s top OCR engines. While more popular in European markets, their OCR and data capture solutions offer great performance and features for the price.

IRIS is offering very competitive pricing compared to OCR alternatives. Plus for the month of March SimpleOCR offers a great 50% discount on new version of IRIS ReadIRIS PDF 22!

IRIS ReadIRIS OCR SoftwareReadIRIS will allow you to convert any paper document, image or PDF into editable and searchable digital files (Word, Excel, PDF, HTML, etc.) using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Simply scan your paper document using the built-in scanning wizard or import image from folders or digital camera. ReadIRIS will instantly convert it to the format of your choice without altering the original layout. Your digital documents will now be easy to edit, archived and shared!

IRISmart File is intelligent software for semi-automatic naming and classification of electronic and paper documents. Ideal for freelancers, microbusinesses and SME, IRISmart will help you carry out long, slow everyday administrative tasks quicker than ever before. Anyone who wants to file a large amount of paper or electronic files and invoices into ordered folders quickly and efficiently will find this intelligent software to be a major ally.

IRIS Powerscan is a full-featured document scanning and data capture application designed for high-volume document processing. Please contact us for a quote or demo of IRIS Powerscan.

IRIS IRISXtract for Documents is THE software system for intelligent, automated document processing, for all types of documents. The product line of the IRISXtract system is designed to handle ALL your data capture needs, from the inbound mail, whether hardcopy paper or electronic, through […]

Handprint Recognition Guide

What is ICR, Handprint Recognition?

ICR stands for Intelligent Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret hand printed text on scanned images.

Forms Processing Software uses ICR technology to automate data entry tasks involving hand-filled surveys, applications and forms. It provides interfaces for scanning, recognition, data verification and export, as well as management and monitoring tools to track large volumes of documents and data through the workflow.

Forms Processing also includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize machine printed text, and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) for check boxes and multiple choice bubbles.

Traditional forms processing relies on constrained handwriting, where boxes on the form force the filler to write with separated, printed block characters. Modern AI technology has dramatically improved the ability to recognized unconstrained handwriting and cursive script. Hand printed notes, free-form comments blocks, non-segmented fields, historic documents, and more can now be converted to text with acceptable accuracy where these were impossible just a few years ago.

Who can benefit from handwritten recognition software?

Any organization that collects data on paper-based forms, surveys or applications on a regular basis can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with forms processing software.

You do need to have a significant number of forms to justify the expense, at least a hundred forms per month or more depending on how much data is being captured. If the data entry task can be done in under 25 working hours then it is probably not a good candidate for automation with ICR software.

Organizations that have many separate departments that collect data on forms can share the budget for forms processing software by re-using it for other projects. Your current project may not be big enough to justify […]

Kofax OCR

Kofax OmniPage Ultimate Standard Server OCR softwareKofax already had a large variety of products for your business automation like Kofax Capture for high-volume document scanning and data capture, or Kofax VRS Elite to deal with less then perfect images and to capture even the toughest to recognize documents.

Recently Kofax had acquired Nuance’s Document Imaging Division and thus created one of the most powerful family of products for business automation. With products like OmniPage Ultimate or Standard offers you a good versatile OCR packages for small or mid level businesses. There is also an OmniPage Server option for much larger document volumes.

Kofax OmniPage OCR Software Nuance Scan Soft UltimateKofax OmniPage converts paper, PDF files and forms into documents you can share, edit on your PC, listen to with natural speech, or archive in a document repository. Amazing accuracy, support for virtually any scanner, the best tools to customize your process, and automatic document routing make it the perfect choice to maximize productivity. Improved OCR engines deliver amazing accuracy for document conversion and archiving business critical documents.

Kofax OmniPage Server is a cost-effective and reliable solution for business process owners to easily deploy a highly scalable, always-available OCR server solution for large volume of documents processing.

Kofax Power PDF is the smart replacement for Adobe Acrobat for maximum savings without compromise. Power PDF allows you to make changes to PDF files with the fluidity, flexibility and interactivity of real word processing. In addition you can share, edit and discuss document changes using text or voice chat in real-time with multiple people. Plus you can have anywhere, anytime access to your documents using popular Cloud services.

Kofax PaperPort […]

ABBYY Vantage

ABBYY Vantage leverages AI machine learning and a huge library of document “skills” to provide out-of-the-box data capture for all kinds of documents.

Vantage provides a simple way to implement new data capture processes without the need for programmers.

It takes the FlexiCapture platform, hosts it in the cloud, and dramatically simplifies the interface. The thousands of settings you can use with FlexiCapture to build templates are managed by the AI, giving you a simple point and click interface to create new document capture workflows.

The “Skills” library gives you pre-configured capture workflows for hundreds of the most common documents. Simply connect them to your import and export destinations and you are ready to go, saving you hours or even days of development time.

Google Cloud Vision API

Vision API offers powerful pre-trained machine learning models through REST and RPC APIs. Assign labels to images and quickly classify them into millions of predefined categories. Detect objects and faces, read printed and handwritten text, and build valuable metadata into your image catalog.

Automatically extract handwriting, plain text or form data from any document using a huge machine learning model based on billions of sample documents.

Google Vision is a cloud OCR service that automatically detects and extracts text and data from scanned documents and PDF files. It goes beyond simple optical character recognition (OCR) to also identify the contents of fields in forms and information stored in tables.

Google Vision API also lets you implement OCR in your RPA workflows. UiPath and other bots offer connectors that let you include Vision OCR into your RPA process.

Google Vision is not a “ready-to-use” product. It requires programing skills, experience with Google cloud services, and decent amount of coding to implement it into your systems, especially once you add user interfaces for scanning and data validation.

Simple Software developers have the necessary skills and experience to integrate Google Vision into your custom applications. Contact us or click the Request a Quote button to get a proposal for your custom application development project.

Amazon Textract API

Automatically extract handwriting, plain text or form data from any document using the world’s largest OCR machine learning model based on billions of sample documents.

Amazon Textract is a cloud OCR service that automatically detects and extracts text and data from scanned documents and PDF files. It goes beyond simple optical character recognition (OCR) to also identify the contents of fields in forms and information stored in tables.

Amazon Textract API also lets you implement OCR in your RPA workflows. UiPath and other bots offer connectors that let you include Textract OCR into your RPA process.

Textract is not a “ready-to-use” product. It requires programing skills, experience with AWS systems and decent amount of coding to implement it into your systems, especially once you add user interfaces for scanning and data validation.

Simple Software developers have the necessary skills and experience to integrate Textract into your custom applications. Contact us or click the Request a Quote button to get a proposal for your custom application development project.

Simple Software also offers the ready-to-use SimpleIndex application that incorporates Textract into a fully-featured scanning, indexing and document processing application.

Grooper Document Processing

Grooper was built from the ground up by BIS, a company with 35 years of continuous experience developing and delivering new technology. Grooper is an intelligent document processing and digital data integration solution that empowers organizations to extract meaningful information from paper/electronic documents and other forms of unstructured data.

The platform combines patented and sophisticated image processing, capture technology, machine learning, natural language processing, and optical character recognition to enrich and embed human comprehension into data. By tackling tough challenges that other systems cannot resolve, Grooper has become the foundation for many industry-first solutions in healthcare, financial services, oil and gas, education, and government.

  • Single platform
  • Patented OCR
  • Image processing
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Zero code
  • Zero templates
  • Open architecture

Title

Go to Top