Optical Character Recognition Explained in Less than 600 Words
If keying in data is slowing down your Risk Management processes or you want to edit a printed contract without wasting hours of your time, you need a more practical digital solution. Avoid spending hours typing documents from the beginning and having the risk of content with mistakes.
Now, imagine that you can scan a document and digitize all the text to make it machine-readable. Luckily, this technology exists!
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a great tool that converts unstructured data into machine-readable text so it can be searched and therefore more easily consumed by humans. Because of its practical functionality, OCR has shown growing success, especially in the insurance industry.
Take advantage of this technology and learn how you can implement its benefits in your organization.
What is Optical Character Recognition?
OCR is a specialized technology used to read the characters of a text within things like printed books, photos, or scanned documents. It converts text containing images into characters that can be readable by computers to edit, compute, and analyze in future steps.
In other words, it is the detection of print or written text that analyzes patterns of dark and light to determine the shapes of letters and translate them into character codes. The character codes then digitize information from a scanned document.
You can think of this in terms of software “reading” what is on a scanned document and then converting it to a digital file.
How Does OCR Work?
OCR for computers is not as simple as it sounds. To start, a human has to upload a picture or a document for the computer to read. When the photo is uploaded, the computer sees it as a file made up of pixels, like a photo with no words on it.
Imagine you upload a picture of a Certificate of Insurance (COI) to your computer. When this photo is uploaded, your computer recognizes it is a photo made up of pixels. The computer does not know the words are on the picture. This is where OCR comes into play. Once the photo goes through the OCR software, the computer can recognize the actual words and symbols on the photo.
How does OCR Scan Files?
There are two ways that Optical Character Recognition looks at files and converts them into readable formats:
- Pattern Recognition: Through programming, the software recognizes the exact character. This means the software must recognize the font you are using.
- Feature Detection: The software recognizes features that make characters. Ex. The software knows that any vertical line with three horizontal lines coming out on the right is an “E.”
In terms of flexibility, feature detection is more useful because the software can read almost any font you run through it. But if you are using the software for something like Certificate of Insurance (COI) collection, pattern recognition is sufficient because COIs use a standardized font.
Why You Need to Take Advantage of OCR
Many industries use Optical Character Recognition, but most notable is its use in the insurance industry. This technology allows organizations to save time and money by reducing the time to import data and cuts out human error.
A lot of you may be thinking right now, “ok but how is this different than a scanner?” With OCR technology, the software reads and transforms the text in an image into a readable computer format. This could mean that the text from a picture of a COI is inserted into an online form automatically. If you were to use a regular scanner, it would only be able to take a physical copy and turn it into a photo on your computer.
You can learn more about the benefits of OCR specific in the insurance industry and how SmartCompliance OCR technology will help you while applying Machine learning to your specific needs.