What problems can OCR solve?
Mobile OCR is a very powerful tool. It enables devices with a camera to see, read and transform the data into digital output. I want to take a trip with you to all the great possibilities OCR offers! We will take a look at the core functionalities of OCR, why mobile devices are able to do it now and at some possible future use cases.
OPTICAL CHARACTER RECOGNITION
Everyday, our eyes and our brain perform Optical Character Recognition. It is a very complex process which requires different areas of the brain to be activated at the same time. Every time we read something, our eyes recognize the contrast of printed text and paper. We then recognize the different patterns and when pieces are missing, our brain fills the gaps. We can distinguish between letters and numbers and our brain puts the information we just read into context. That means that the brain decodes the text in front of us. We then store the information if it’s important to us or get rid of it right away.
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Machines can do this as well, but just like humans, they need to learn it. For computers, OCR has been around for quite a while now. If you want to refresh your knowledge on OCR, please check out our post explaining basics of OCR. Like we discussed there, OCR is the ability of a machine to extract all information from an image into editable text. When you usually scan a document with a basic scanner, you are not able to edit the information later. With OCR this is possible. Imagine scanning all your invoices as PDFs and then being able to edit all the information you’d like. Once the text is digitized, you can basically do whatever you want with it. Most OCR programs on computers are used for invoices, legal documents, magazines and speeding up mail delivery for example. If you want to try this out there are various free OCR tools on the market!
MOBILE DEVICES AND OCR
The link between mobile devices and OCR has not been present for that long. You might ask yourself why smartphones should be able to read and digitize text? Well, it’s the same as with computers – it makes your life easier. And since the rise of smartphones and smart glasses, OCR also works on those devices. The camera image is taken as input and processed directly on the phone, in order to get the digitized information as output. Text recognition isn’t something that gets shipped with smartphones yet though. You always need an app with an OCR API. And if someone needs OCR it usually always starts with a problem that needs a solution.
The core of Optical Character Recognition is mostly to speed up processes and make them easier.
The general problem is as follows: I have a piece of text, number or code in front of me and I want to digitize the information in order to work with it.
POSSIBLE USE CASES
The different possibilities of mobile OCR seem almost limitless. Besides the power of text recognition itself, the technology can also be combined with different technologies such as Augmented Reality and Object Recognition which also makes it so multifaceted. Like I said before, OCR also works on smart glasses which opens new doors in the logistic sector for example. Picking packages could get a lot easier when you have your hands free and simply scan serial numbers with your smart glasses on. Also in the energy sector this can speed up processes of reading electricity meters for example! And if you combine the technology with Augmented Reality, it makes it even more powerful.
We recently just wrote about a mobile developer who built an app to scan the WiFi Code in order to connect to it right away. Imagine you have an app on your phone that always shows you the nearest WiFis around and let’s you connect to it by simply scanning the password from a sheet of paper instead of typing it in. This would be so useful for conferences for example!
As you can see there is a countless amount of use cases!
Why don’t you try out OCR yourself? To build your own use case, you don’t need much knowledge and you can always reach out to us if you need any help!
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