A device for converting facsimile images of hardcopy documents into real text digital output.
Original Publication Date: 2002-Feb-07
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Embedded Optical Character Recognition in a document scanning device. Disclosed is a document scanning device with embedded Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Document scanning devices generally support basic image based operations such as copy, fax, file, or e-mail. Advanced OCR capabilities are generally provided as software for personal computers or shared servers. New applications, cost savings, and improved access are made possible by embedding the OCR capability in the document scanning device. The typical embodiment of this invention is a Multi Function Device (MFD). An MFD is ideal because it serves as a common access point for paper documents and it includes a digital network connection. With this invention, MFDs can be used to convert text in paper documents to digital documents which can be edited and searched rather than only viewed. This invention also significantly reduces the size of the digital file because it contains coded characters rather than images of characters. This reduces the storage and distribution bandwidth costs. Finally, this invention makes OCR more available at a lower cost. Computer skills are not required to use the OCR capability which is as easy to user as a traditional copier. Also, the OCR software is only licensed and supported for use in the shared MFDs rather than for each personal computer. Traditional systems for converting hard copy documents into real text exist as pure software packages only, requiring the user of the software package to have a scanner for converting the hard copy data into facsimile data, as well as having a computer system sufficient to run the software package for converting the scanned image to text. The combined complexity of this configuration make it impossible for the typical office worker to benefit from these software systems. The workflow of these traditional systems is also cumbersome and complicated. The office worker from the desktop 1) creates a facsimile representation of the hard copy document, 2) imports that facsimile into a traditional OCR software package, 3) converts the facsimile data to real-text, 4) attach the real text document to an output device such as e-mail. This invention incorporates an OCR package into a walk-up device for producing digital output, making it possible for the typical office worker to benefit from OCR. The walk-up device incorporates a scanner for creating facsimile image necessary for OCR, as well as the computer sufficient for running the OCR package, all through a walk-up interface. This same all-in-one device provides a simple, straightforward workflow for outputting real-text digital output to a variety of ports such as a file or e-mail system. In the walk-up system to accomplish the same task the user 1) enters a destination for the digital output specifying the use of the recognition engine, 2) presses start on the device.