If you’ve ever had to scan something and have a device magically “scan” its text, you’ve likely encountered what’s called OCR or Optical Character Recognition. And we see this everywhere - from scanning documents to scanning images to access various kinds of information! Here in Remotasks, interpreting OCR scans is one of the most important task categories we tackle, especially since it can help various teams, corporations, and startups make better services for their customers. However, if you’re still a bit confused as to just what OCR can do for you, here’s a quick primer:
OCR For Newcomers: What Is Optical Character Recognition?
For those unaware of this interesting technology, OCR or Optical Character Recognition is a kind of technology that tries to replicate human-like recognition of symbols and characters which are then compiled into a readable output. Essentially, OCR is technology that can “scan” surfaces with characters and symbols and place them in a document or an image. If you’ve ever thought about just “scanning” your school blackboard into a document for you to print instead of having to write everything down, that’s exactly what OCR is for .
In essence, OCR works by following the basic mechanisms that scientists believe humans use to “recognize” meaning behind symbols. These are:
- Integrity, wherein a symbol or character is concise and clearly different from others.
- Purposefulness, wherein a symbol or a character has a defined purpose separate from other symbols.
- Adaptability, wherein a symbol or a character can adapt and form meaningful words and phrases when combined with other symbols.
Uses Of OCR: Symbols For The Win
Interestingly, with the above in mind, OCR can actually have a ton of applications to the real world. With the right hands, OCR can make life today much easier, especially now that we rely on digital platforms to analyze technology. Here are awesome uses of OCR:
- Did you know that OCR can help with self-service tasks? Instead of using up at least five minutes of your time filling up forms, scanning documents, or having paperwork photocopied for your needs, you can use OCR to do self-service tasks across various services. For instance, the company Anyline makes use of OCR to help make consumers avail services much faster with just an OCR reader. Examples of these include self-check-ins at hotels where mobile OCR scanners allow guests to scan their own passports and relevant documents. Likewise, certain shopping malls allow guests to scan needed documents for tax-free shopping instead of having customers wait in line to submit documents.
- Did you know that services can use OCR to improve customer satisfaction? Likewise, users can actually use OCR to interact with services much more effectively and with greater satisfaction. For instance, in the food industry, some restaurants provide users with the option to scan actual food items and see their counterparts and descriptions in a menu over their phones. Moreover, some apps are being developed that can recognize various forms of food that would in term give access to various types of information online about it, be it its calorie count or other benefits.
- Did you know that OCR can help optimize government services and healthcare? Aside from customer services, OCR can actually help optimize healthcare and government services with easy access to data retrieval and submission. For governments, people can use OCR to submit requirements much more easily and even access their records without having to line up for a long time. Meanwhile, healthcare services can give users access to their various information by just scanning passports - no need for confusing lines and various other requirements. With OCR, availing these kinds of services can greatly boost efficiency and satisfaction among consumers.
- Did you know that scholars and specialists use OCR to transfer documents into digital archives? One of the best uses of OCR is to copy-paste documents - but this can go beyond just having a digital copy of various relevant files. In most offices, being able to copy-paste documents quickly allows them to do work more efficiently. However, people such as scholars also use OCR to scan handwritten documents for archiving - which can be extremely important to make historical records or even preserve relevant pieces of information as paper does wear out over time. Thanks to OCR, people can make permanent records of relevant information for their future reference. Additionally, in offices, OCR can greatly reduce human effort as this technology can almost instantaneously extract information from documents and pictures.
- Did you know OCR can boost productivity and reduce cost in workspaces? Interestingly, one of the biggest impacts of OCR has to do with offices and small businesses. For instance, the ability of OCR to be able to capture and scan documents can have an unprecedented impact in the overall productivity of the workplace. Being able to scan documents quickly not only increases the speed of which information can be retrieved. Rather, OCR encourages workspaces to rely on cloud storage to store files digitally and more securely. Additionally, spending less on paper documents can greatly boost efficiency and lessen costs in terms of paper and other unnecessary additions to inventory management.
- Did you know that persons with disabilities can use OCR for assistance? Aside from transferring symbols from paper to screen, OCR can actually get integrated with various technologies to assist those with disabilities. For instance, thanks to the wonders of text-to-speech programs, OCR can help the blind interpret information everyday as these programs can read information out loud for them. This can be extremely useful when it comes to reading documents, books, and assisting them in daily life in general.
OCR And The Real World: More Than Scanning
With our explainer above, it’s important to remember that there’s more to OCR than what meets the eye (pun intended!). In fact, thanks to OCR, a lot of smart gadgets nowadays can help interpret images and other visual information - leading to extremely efficient services. If you want to contribute towards making more functional OCR software, you might want to join us here in Remotasks!
Here in Remotasks, our OCR tasks will have you assess and analyze various kinds of visual data to help our clients make more useful apps. Don’t worry, as you only need to become a Remotasker in order to start doing OCR tasks and earn from them! Registration is completely free, and our tutorials come free of charge!