Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Convert your Mobile Phone or Digital Camera into a Portable Scanner

How many of you, the readers of this Blog, have private mobile phones? How many of your mobile phones are equipped with camera? Probably, the overwhelming majority… Do you know that your camera can be used for much more than regular pictures taking? Just imagine that you can make a photo of each and every book page and poster, and convert it into the software text file, which you can easily manipulate and edit. What a great solution for:

  • Students, spending hours in the public libraries,
  • Professional, interesting to input data from the business card automatically in the software format without additional devices,
  • Visually-impaired, planning to read clearly the warning message on the bottle with pills on the pharmacy shelf.
  • Anybody, seeing interesting article, poster, graphic ads, and many other uses.

Experts forecast, that by 2010, there will be a billion camera phones in the world, half of them with a resolution of at least three megapixels. So, development of the OCR solution based on the low-resolution images comes to the focus of developers in multiple companies. In this post, we will limit our investigation by one of directions: development of the free desktop software that is practically optimized for the data input from your digital camera or mobile phone built-in camera.
The best software I could find on the market for the announced purposes is TopOCR. TopOCR is specifically designed as a simple and user-friendly solution for use with digital camera, smart phone, or camera-equipped media player. The main limitation of the software that it can support only devices with optical resolution of more than 3 MP

The list of the software features, announced by manufacturer, is pretty impressive:

  • OCR accuracy of up to 99.8% with a 3 MP camera.
  • No limits for amount of pages.
  • Handles images with mixed text and graphics (Manual or Auto Zoning).
  • Tolerates skew and uneven lighting.
  • Multiple text output formats, including searchable PDF and HTML.
  • Able to read 11 different languages
  • Powerful, easy to use Image Processing with Image Dewarping
  • Includes built-in, full featured Text and Image WYSIWYG Editors
  • Post-processing spell checker for all 11 languages
  • Built-in Text-To-Speech software. OCR to MP3.
  • Supports a Command Line Interface and a GUI.

Download the software from the authors’s site: http://www.topocr.com/download.html. If you are devoted fan of the portable applications, as I am, you might be interested in the efforts to convert this application into the portable one: http://portablefreeware.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=9812

I am using the offered approach with no difficulties.

If you do not care for a software portability, just use the installation file from the authors; do not spend additional time on these complications. Again, link for downloading:

http://www.topocr.com/download.html

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