Zonal OCR automates data entry from from documents by reading the text at specific coordinates using optical character recognition. Data is output to a database or structured text files like CSV, XML or JSON.

ABBYY Cloud OCR SDK

ABBYY® Cloud OCR SDK is a web-based document processing service that will enhance your enterprise software systems, SaaS platforms, or your mobile apps with the ability to convert documents and utilize textual information from scans, PDFs, document images, smartphone photos, or screenshots.

Combining ABBYY’s latest AI-based technologies for information extraction with the highly scalable processing power of the Microsoft® Azure® computing infrastructure, this secure and reliable ABBYY cloud service can be easily integrated into your application via a REST API—empowering it to precisely convert virtually any number of pages within the shortest amount of time.

OCR Data Capture

What is OCR Data Capture?

document OCR process automationOCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret text on scanned images. When this technology is applied to automating business data entry processes it’s referred to as OCR Data Capture.

Many are familiar with popular desktop OCR applications designed to convert scanned images to editable documents. When this process is applied to specific areas of the document containing data fields it’s called zone OCR. But OCR data capture software is more than just simple zone OCR. Modern applications use some or all of these technologies:

Enterprise data capture systems provide 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.

Who can benefit from OCR data capture software?

messy business information made easy with ocr data captureAny organization that collects data from paper documents, or electronic files like PDF and Office documents, can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with OCR data capture software.

You do need to have a significant number of documents to […]

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

Using Artificial Intelligence to train OCR templates

Modern Forms Processing applications have AI-based training algorithms that let users point and click on the location of data in their documents and create OCR templates automatically.

This bypasses the technical requirements of creating complex OCR templates, especially for varied documents like Invoices where the data doesn’t always appear in the same place.

But how good are these AI-based training systems?

In our experience they work well when you have:

  • Good quality scanned images
  • Clearly labeled data
  • Tables with regular columns

Point and click style training doesn’t work quite as well with:

  • Poor quality images
  • Data that appears within paragraphs
  • Tables with overlapping columns, subtotal rows, etc.

These types of documents can still be captured with OCR but they will usually require an experienced technician to manually configure the template.

For natural language data like legal documents, a new artificial intelligence technology called NLP (Natural Language Processing) is available. These work by attempting to “understand” the language used in documents to interpret the location of data points based on meaning. ABBYY FlexiCapture also supports NLP-based training for these types of documents.

How to use Zone OCR when the data can be in different locations?

Modern Forms Processing software can use rules-based templates for locating data on documents based on label keywords, data types, regular expression pattern matching and other methods.

The most common example in business is an Invoice. Businesses receive invoices from 1000s of different vendors, each with important information like the Invoice Number, Due Date and Total needed to process the document, but each vendor invoice is formatted a little differently than the others.

Software like ABBYY FlexiCapture will look for keywords like “Invoice Number” or variations like “Inv #” and “Invoice No.” to locate the invoice number value on each invoice.

These applications are also able to capture complex table data and output to formats like Excel or a SQL Database, especially when it doesn’t line up into regular columns.

In recent years, artificial intelligence based training has made it possible to simply point and click on the location of data on documents as you process them and generate these templates automatically, dramatically reducing the need for ongoing expert help these systems require.

Does ReadIRIS, FineReader or OmniPage support Zone OCR?

The “Pro” versions of most Desktop OCR applications support the creation of zone templates that can be used to OCR specific regions on batches of documents.

Most OCR applications have “Lite” versions that don’t have the ability to manually create zones so it’s important to get the correct version.

With these applications it is often not possible to output this data as “fields” in a structured data file like CSV, Excel or XML. What you typically get a text file for each document with a line of text for each zone. The zones are designed more for excluding regions you don’t want or manually overriding the detection of text, tables and images in the document.

If you need to capture specific data in multiple documents and output them to structured data files or a SQL database, Batch OCR Applications are the best option for this.

If you need to capture data formatted in tables and output to CSV or Excel, desktop OCR applications do this quite well as long as the tables have a regular format with well-defined columns.

To capture handprint, irregular tables, large numbers of data points, or data that doesn’t always appear in the same place on every page, Forms Processing software is what you need.

SimpleSoftware

SimpleIndex can bring speed and efficiency to your scanning or doc filing no matter the process. Even if all you are doing is hand keying a few basic details about a document, breaking those details into individual indexes and adding tools like drop down choice lists, automatic orientation, and blank page deletion ensure a smoother, more consistent process.

Automation

Here’s where things start to get interesting. From basic tasks like splitting individual documents within at stack of pages by spotting a blank page, a specific mark, or a barcode separator to capturing index data directly from the page or looking up additional details about a document in a database, SimpleIndex has a host of powerful tools to tame your piles of paper or drives full of digital files. Let’s look at a few.

OCR

Optical Character Recognition is the ability to take a scan, which is merely a picture of a page, and turn it into words that the computer can understand and use to index your files. SimpleIndex leverages the power of ABBYY FineReader, recognized as one of the best OCR engines on the market, to accurately capture names, dates, important numbers, document types, and other details about your file. Some products have you set a box and capture whatever information happens to fall in that zone. SimpleIndex takes it further with Dynamic Zone OCR to enable you to set an oversized zone that allows for shifting of the pages between scans, but still captures just the date you need by matching against templates, lists, or even Regular Expressions (RegEx). You can also skip the zones entirely and use the full text of a page to find matches for your index data.

Barcodes

Forms Processing

What is ICR, Survey & Forms Processing?

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

Data Capture Forms OCRForms 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.

Who can benefit from handprint 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 100 man-hours then it is 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 the expense, but when combined with one or two others it would be.

How much do Survey & Forms Processing systems cost?

The total cost of a forms processing solution includes several items:

  • Cost of the software
  • Time to install and configure the software
  • Forms may need to be redesigned for optimal recognition
  • Recognition templates must be created for each data field on every type of form
  • Data exports must […]

Batch OCR Software

Batch OCR for Full-Text Conversion & Searchable PDF

Batch OCR PDF to Text, Excel, WordThe primary purpose of Optical Character Recognition is to quickly and automatically convert scanned images of machine-printed (typed) text into actual text data that you can search through and modify.

Batch OCR software allows for the conversion of multiple files at once, usually through a hot folder or watched email inbox method that converts any files added to a particular folder.

The ability to watch a hotfolder and automatically convert documents is included in the complete versions of desktop OCR products, like FineReader Corporate, OmniPage Ultimate or ReadIRIS Corporate.

While automatic processing is available in these applications, they are not designed for true server-based processing since the application has to be running on the user’s desktop. OCR servers are designed for unattended batch OCR processing and high-volume applications that require multiple CPUs and processing workflows.

Those applications are all designed for traditional, full-page OCR conversions to text, Word, Excel, or searchable PDF documents.

Batch OCR for Data Capture

Forms Processing OCR Data CaptureOCR Data Capture systems are designed to read specific data points from documents and output structured data like CSV, XML, JSON or SQL databases. SimpleIndex, FlexiCapture and PaperVision Capture all offer batch zone OCR as well as advanced features like AI-based training, invoice processing and line items.

OCR Experts At Your Service

Our OCR experts can help you find the batch OCR software that is right for your project, as well as providing remote installation, setup, training and support that’s not available for most desktop OCR applications. We can also help with enterprise implementations, custom API integrations, RPA or […]

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