Capture Technology Evolution: How Important is Consumer Education?

By Joe Budelli posted 04-20-2011 15:01


If you are like me and constantly read industry news so you can remain “in the know,” and on top of the industry issues and trends shaping the capture market, then you have likely noticed the recent onslaught of new product announcements leveraging OCR. All of this confirmed something that I have been hoping for the last few years: that there is an industry push to use capture technology to make mobile devices and applications better interact with the world around the user.


There are many examples of this trend I can call out, including a recent piece from CNET discussing Quicktionary, a new handheld electronic dictionary that scans the text in books and performs translation and data capture, or 3M’s announcement about a new mobile identification reader that leverages OCR to provide contact-free identification for law enforcement and transportation agencies. I even read an article in GigaOM that discussed a new form of mobile payment, AisleBuyer. The application uses OCR and allows merchants to process payments using a mobile picture of a credit or debit card. All of these recent announcements got me thinking; capture and mobile recognition technology are becoming prevalent in our everyday lives, but most consumers have no idea what capture technology is, and what it can do. The real question is whether it is important for them to know what OCR is?


OCR is an integral part of our everyday lives, but consumers that don’t know the technology may quickly take it for granted. With the enhancements made in OCR technology over the past few years, what once took a long time, now takes just minutes. Have you ever transcribed a document that you didn’t have a digital copy of? A three-page document can take an hour to copy. Now, it’s as easy as putting the paper in a scanner and clicking the button of your OCR solution, or taking a picture of a document and uploading it to an online document conversion service. We can even snap a picture with our mobile phone and have an app do the work. In most instances, consumers don’t know these options exist. They are forced to waste time and effort transcribing the world around them, instead of using tools to do it for them.


Now that application developers have taken notice, consumer education is an important next step. Over the past couple of years, significant progress has been made and OCR technology has been extended to the furthest reaches of the user’s world. Capture technology is making mobile apps useful tools on smartphones and tablets, making it simpler for users to digitize the world around them. However, without education, and at least a basic understanding of what OCR is, many consumers will be left longing for a tool that can help, when one is already in their pocket or on their desk.


Whether you want to convert a paper book to store in your personal digital library for e-reading, capture the text of a photograph for translation, or pay for your convenience store purchase with an image of your debit card, OCR technology is versatile enough to be the solution. Do you think education is as important as I do? How can the capture industry do a better job of educating consumers about the power of OCR and its extension to the devices they use? What mediums (blogs, Twitter, advertising campaigns, etc.) do you think will be most effective for this education?

#OCR #mobiledevice #datacapture #mobilecapture #ScanningandCapture #mobileapplications