Optical Character Recognition: What is it and how does it work?

The technology of Optical Character Recognition enables different types of documents to be captured by a digital camera and turned into editable and searchable data. So, basically, OCR converts images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-coded text. For example, if you have a paper document you want to send by email, when you can scan the document to send, the recipient will not be able to edit the image’s text. All a scanner does is turn a document into dots. To actually extract and repurpose the data, you need OCR software. OCR singles out letters, glyphs, and characters from an image and puts them into comprehensible words and sentences, so users can access and edit the content of the original document. OCR technology is widely used in certain industries and for specific tasks. Let’s find out more.

optical camera lens

The Self-service Industry’s Use of OCR Technology

A growing number of stores and vending machines are using OCR technology to make it easier to purchase items. For example, some railway ticket machines are equipped with OCR. Customers simply buy a ticket via a mobile app, scan it at an OCR kiosk and receive a printed ticket. Simple!

Online Live Casinos’ Use of OCR Technology

At a live casino, you can play your favourite casino games like online roulette, poker, or blackjack, in real-time with a real croupier in a studio. Unlike online casinos that provide software-driven games, live casinos make the experience as close to a real-life brick-and-mortar casino experience as possible. When live casinos first came onto the scene, dealers would use radio frequency identification to keep players updated on the real-time action going on. Each playing card was fitted with a tiny computer chip. But those chips became redundant with the introduction of OCR technology. The tech allows every minute detail in the gaming room to be recorded and streamed via the video link. OCR tech records everything from the value of your hand and the size of your wagers stacked on the roulette table to the shuffling of the cards and the spinning of the roulette wheel.

Banks’ Use of OCR Technology

OCR has transformed the way banks operate, to provide smoother and more secure processes. For instance, OCR software can scan customers’ handwritten guarantee documents. Indeed, OCR can be used for all manner of documents that are processed in the banking industry every day. Furthermore, OCR is used in partnership with facial recognition software to provide a two-layered security feature at ATMs.

Automatic Number-plate Recognition’s Use of OCR Technology

You have probably heard of Automatic Number-plate Recognition technology, which reads vehicle registration plates. But did you realise ANPR works by using Optical Character Recognition? Police forces, highway agencies, and other official bodies use ANPR with OCR technology to read license plates to create vehicle location data, check if a vehicle is registered or licensed, monitor traffic movements, and much more. It can even be used for electronic toll collection on pay-per-use roads. With OCR tech, it is easy for photos of license plates to be turned into text, and many systems use infrared lighting so that accurate images can be captured both day and night.

Visually Impaired People’s Use of OCR Technology

OCR does not just convert images into text. It can also convert the printed word into speech. That is having a significant impact on helping people who are visually impaired. For example, a blind person can now use OCR technology to scan printed text and have it spoken back in synthetic speech, thereby giving the individual access to a huge number of written materials.