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Optical character recognition

Optical character recognition

(also OCR, text recognition)

Optical character recognition definition

Optical character recognition (OCR) is a technology that converts handwritten or digitally scanned text into a machine-readable format. Businesses use OCR to digitize documents by converting text images into text data. This data can then be read and analyzed by other business applications. OCR helps conduct analytics, streamline business operations, automate processes, and increase productivity.

How optical character recognition works

  • OCR software uses complex algorithms and machine learning technology to analyze scanned text images and identify each individual character.
  • Once the software recognizes the characters, it converts them into machine-readable text.
  • The converted text can be used for several purposes, such as indexing and searching for documents, automated data entry, or converting printed documents into accessible formats for people with visual impairments.

Optical character recognition examples

  • Document management. Companies may use OCR to convert paper documents into searchable digital text.
  • Healthcare. OCR can be used to convert printer medical questionnaires into digital formats so they can be easily searchable and accessible.
  • Retail. OCR reads and processes product labels, receipts, and pricing tags.
  • Transportation. The transportation sector uses OCR technology to automate ticketing, license plate recognition, and toll collection.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security