Although there are many ways to transform physical documents into digital ones, there are only a handful of ways to make the data digitally editable. Two of these techniques are known as optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR). ICR is a subset of OCR, however, there are a few key differences between the two that set them apart. This blog discusses how ICR differs from OCR, in order to help companies make better decisions. Nevertheless, these techniques form the basis of intelligent document recognition. Now that the world is moving at a much quicker pace, it becomes a necessity for businesses to deploy such a solution.

OCR – An Overview

According to Gartner’s study, “Businesses spend billions of dollars rekeying data from a variety of paper forms.” This is where online character recognition can help such organisations save tons of resources. OCR is a tool that helps to identify characters and text from print or text documents. After identification, the text is converted into computer-readable text. Therefore, the company can then process, edit, and store the information in its digital servers. In short, OCR enables a company to transform its paper data into digital data. 

The Next Step – Intelligent Character Recognition

As discussed, the very first thing to note between the two is that ICR, intelligent character recognition, is the subset of OCR. Therefore, its basic purpose remains the same. ICR identifies characters from a physical document and then transforms them into machine-readable code. However, the real difference lies in its capability to identify handwritten text. Therefore, the name contains ‘intelligent’ in it. Moreover, it extends the functionality of basic OCR by including more fonts and text styles in its database. Thereby, increasing intelligent character recognition use cases and implementation potential.

Key Differences Between OCR and ICR:

The following differences can help an organisation pick the best option from the two:

  • Types of Data

The very first organisational difference is the data types. The overview of OCR and ICR mentioned that the former can identify characters in the text and printed documents. Whereas, the latter can additionally identify handwriting and different typing fonts. In this case, intelligent character recognition takes the lead in terms of operational base.

  • Accuracy Comparison

When it comes to accuracy, OCR exhibits a respectable one. However, in certain scenarios, it cannot keep up with the newer uneven document styles. On the other hand, the superior neural network that powers intelligent character recognition software enables it to breeze through such tasks as well. Therefore, ICR can recognise a larger number of text fonts and sizes, and that too in varying conditions. Similarly, its accuracy in the identification of handwritten texts does not leave much to be desired.

  • Processing Capabilities

One of the major differentiating factors is ICR’s ability to learn. Since an AI model handles the working of intelligent character recognition, more handwriting styles and fonts can be later added to the software. Therefore, making it much more flexible and versatile than the traditional OCR. Similarly, the AI capabilities allow ICR software to handle a large number of versatile identification tasks at the same time. What’s more is that if an organisation wants to scale their intelligent character recognition software, ICR can easily adapt to these needs.

  • Data Validation

In the traditional OCR, there are no in-built validation checks. For instance, if the software makes any mistake, it would require a human to identify and correct its error. However, the neural network in intelligent character recognition is not just for the identification of characters. In fact, its deep learning model offers data validation as well. When the ICR software is performing character identification, the validation ensures that the text matches a character from a known database. Therefore, increasing the accuracy of ICR ten-folds.

  • Cost and Implementation

The final difference comes from the implementation of the solution and its cost. In most cases, both OCR and ICR technology will be compatible with any business. However, certain businesses would prefer the handwriting recognition feature of intelligent character recognition. Thereby, making it more viable for them. However, it must be noted that the additional features and accuracy of ICR come at a slight price increase. Yet, in the long run, ICR can save tons of resources due to lesser errors and larger processing capabilities.

Choose the Right Solution

Overall, both OCR and ICR are great solutions for online character recognition. However, the strength of intelligent character recognition lies in its capability to identify handwriting and different fonts. Moreover, the AI behind ICR ensures that it will stay updated with newer writing styles and fonts. However, these additional benefits accrue extra costs. Therefore, it falls on the organisation to identify its current needs and future vision. At any cost, ICR is the character recognition software of tomorrow. Therefore, care should be taken when choosing the right service for the company.

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