OCR stands for optical character recognition. It is a technology that lets computers perceive and understand optical characters from sources such as images, signboards, paper documents, and other sources that are not digitally editable.
It is a revolutionary technology that has drastically improved and optimized document workflows in business settings.
The most common form of OCR is Image to text converters. These are online tools that can take images as input and then identify and extract all the text inside them. Then, they put that text into an editable format.
There are also mobile applications that can convert images to text. They have the advantage of being able to take pictures of text directly using the device’s camera.
How does OCR Work?
OCR is primarily used in Image to text converting apps and tools. There are a few steps involved in extracting the text. These steps are discussed below.
- Image Preprocessing
In this step, the image with the text is processed to make it easier to extract text from it. In this step, the following things are done to the image:
- The image is cleaned and stray pixels are removed from it.
- The image is binarized, meaning that the background is darkened and the text is whitened. This makes it easier to recognize the text.
- “Deskewing”: the image is rotated so that all the text in it aligns with the X-axis.
- Image processing
In this step, the actual recognition and extraction of the text is done. The tool/app recognizes which parts of the image have text in them.
Then, all the text in those segments is tokenized. Tokens are basically small sections that contain only one character. Tokenization is the process by which tokens are created.
After that, the tool/app works on recognizing the shapes and contours of each token. There are two techniques that are used here:
- Shape recognition
- Rule-based analysis
In shape recognition, the shape of each token is matched with a database and the character with the closest shape replaces it. This method works when the font matches the one in the database, but if the style is too different, this method becomes very inaccurate.
In rule-based analysis, there are rules which are used to determine what character is being read. The rule-based analysis is difficult to implement but it has more accuracy and can recognize even handwriting.
- Image Post-Processing
This is the final step in OCR. In this step, all the extracted text is pieced together in a digitally editable format. But, before the output is given the tool goes over the text and tries to see if the extracted text is correct or not.
This is done by checking the context. If a word seems out of place, it is replaced with its closest-in-spelling alternate that fits the context better. Then, the final output is given to the user.
How OCR Overcomes the Hurdle of Copying and Sharing Notes for Students
In college and universities, the level of classes becomes far more advanced than in high school. Quite often, students struggle to deal with the increased workload and accompanying stress.
One of the reasons for that is not being able to take proper notes during lectures. The time for a lecture is limited and dividing brain power between taking notes and understanding the contents of the lecture usually backfires.
Students usually tend to gravitate towards understanding rather than recording because they believe they can consult a book afterward. This turns out to be bad though, as books are quite often not as adept at explaining as a professor.
However, with OCR, worrying about taking notes is a thing of the past. Students can easily take notes using their mobile phones and image to text app. This allows them to devote their full attention to comprehension. Here’s how they can do that using a standard Image to text converter.
- Take Pictures of the Contents
Lectures are usually delivered with the help of PowerPoint slides, practical demonstrations, and writing on a black/whiteboard.
Notes can be taken by simply taking pictures of the slides and boards, while practical demonstrations can be transcribed by hand. The pictures of the slides and board can be used to extract text and turned into a digitally editable file.
- Use an Image to Text Converter
Once pictures of the lecture contents have been taken, they can be run through an Image to text converter to extract text from image. This allows students to rearrange or rewrite the contents in a more understandable format.
This is extremely important as word choices and sentence structure differ for each person. Writing things in a way that is intuitive to oneself is extremely important in taking notes.
- Share Notes through Chatting Apps/Email
There are always some students brighter than others, and they are typically much better at taking notes and formatting them. They can share these notes with their friends and classmates easily with the help of OCR.
They can convert their notes to digital formats and share them with their classmates and friends using chatting apps or emails.
Taking notes has always been a pain point for students, especially those who find studying difficult. However, with OCR, such students can copy the notes of their friends and peers who are better at creating them.
This helps promote camaraderie among classmates and also eases the learning process. Typically, students learn better when they are studying with each other and teaching one another. Having the same copy of notes available helps everyone stay on the same track.
With OCR, taking and sharing notes has become much easier. Students all over the world can use various free Image to text converters to take notes easily and share them later on.