Optical Character Recognition or Optical Character Recognition software takes scanned images that may have text as well as photographs. The text portion in the image is converted to editable text. Latest versions of OCR software have a high degree of accuracy and need minimum edits. ICR stands for Intelligent Character Recognition and this works in recognizing handwritten text matter. One ideal application of ICR service is in scanning and converting hand filled forms. As in Optical Character Recognition, there are issues of inaccuracies since handwriting varies widely. ICR is advancement and a further development on OCR. Like Optical Character Recognition it is not hundred percent accurate and a computer has to go through a “learning” process to improve accuracy.
When one talks about document Optical Character Recognition Conversion Services reference is usually to English or languages using the same script. OCR for Indian languages, OCR for Russian and OCR for Arabic would need additional modules and enhancements in the software package. Simple OCR software may not be able to accurately decipher multi column text or tables in scanned images. Some OCR software available is fast but lack in accuracy which it is the opposite in the case of others. Some OCR is designed as general purpose applications or office applications whereas some high end, specific business targeted OCR may have capabilities to extract data from documents and forms and integrate it into back-end databases.
OCR has inbuilt capacity to recognize a huge variety of fonts used in print except for cursive script fonts. However, it cannot recognize handwriting and that functions are fulfilled by ICR.
ICR builds on Optical Character Recognition and has handwriting recognition capabilities besides font recognition. A computer with ICR software installed will go through a “learning curve” to familiarize itself with the input handwriting, refining its database through “practice”. Advanced ICR software incorporates smart technologies working in tandem to come up with an accurate render of the hand written character. For numeric characters there may be an altogether separate dedicated engine for that purpose. For large scale, bulk processing of hand filled forms, some ICR softwares have additional modules converting the handwritten text to databases that are automatically linked in the back end for data processing applications. At one stroke ICR does away with manual entry of forms and delivers more accurate results in comparison.
There is a huge demand for scanning textbooks and other printed matter into electronic text forms or OCR services and a continuously rising demand for ICR with processing forms in bulk. This has led to the rise of specialists in data conversion and data processing. Optical Character Recognition and ICR services are offered by offshore outsourcing specialists who have put in place equipments and software along with a team to deliver highly accurate, voluminous throughput. Add-ons to OCR services could be conversion to formatted text or PDF formats or any other format. Further value addition is obtained by offering end to end image scanning, indexing, OCR cleanup, document management, CD-ROM cataloging and conversion services.
Optical Character Recognition and ICR services go beyond simple scanning and letting the software take care of the conversion processes. Such converted electronic text is never free of errors due to complexity of the language and it needs an editor to polish and clean up electronic text through careful scrutiny and comparison with the scanned image. Capable and established outsourcing service providers have the infrastructure and staff in place to deliver results and reap the benefits of ICR and OCR technologies to the fullest. By offering OCR and ICR in global languages in various scripts, such outsourcing companies build a unique position in the market and can be much sought after for their specialist skills.