Real-Time Optical Character Recognition

Topics: Optical character recognition, Java, Java platform Pages: 51 (11485 words) Published: March 26, 2011


1.1.1 Introduction:

For the past three decades, there has been increasing interest among researchers in problems related to the machine simulation of the human reading process. Intensive research has been carried out in this area with a large number of technical papers and reports in the literature devoted to character recognition. This subject has attracted immense research interest because of the very challenging nature of the problem. Much more difficult, and hence more interesting to researchers, is the ability to automatically recognize handwritten characters.

Optical character recognition, usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text.

OCR is a field of research in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and machine vision. Though academic research in the field continues, the focus on OCR has shifted to implementation of proven techniques. Optical character recognition (using optical techniques such as mirrors and lenses) and digital character recognition (using scanners and computer algorithms) were originally considered separate fields. Because very few applications survive that use true optical techniques, the OCR term has now been broadened to include digital image processing as well.

Early systems required training (the provision of known samples of each character) to read a specific font. "Intelligent" systems with a high degree of recognition accuracy for most fonts are now common. Some systems are even capable of reproducing formatted output that closely approximates the original scanned page including images, columns and other non-textual components

In computer science, intelligent character recognition (ICR) is an advanced optical character recognition (OCR) or - rather more specific - Handwriting recognition system that allows fonts and different styles of handwriting to be learned by a computer during processing to improve accuracy and recognition levels.

Most ICR software has a self-learning system referred to as a neural network, which automatically updates the recognition database for new handwriting patterns. It extends the usefulness of scanning devices for the purpose of document processing, from printed character recognition (a function of OCR) to hand-written matter recognition. Because this process is involved in recognising hand writing, accuracy levels may, in some circumstances, not be very good but can achieve 97%+ accuracy rates in reading handwriting in structured forms. Often to achieve these high recognition rates several read engines are used within the software and each is given elective voting rights to determine the true reading of characters. In numeric fields, engines which are designed to read numbers take preference, while in alpha fields, engines designed to read hand written letters have higher elective rights. When used in conjunction with a bespoke interface hub, hand-written data can be automatically populated into a back office system avoiding laborious manual keying and can be more accurate than traditional human data entry.

An important development of ICR was the invention of Automated Forms Processing in 1993. This involved a three stage process of capturing the image of the form to be processed by ICR and preparing it to enable the ICR engine to give best results, then capturing the information using the ICR engine and finally processing the results to automatically validate the output from the ICR engine.

This application of ICR increased the usefulness of the technology and made it applicable for use with real world forms in normal business applications.

1.1.2 Machine Learning:

Machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence that is concerned with the design and development of algorithms...
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