Edit: After half day, my wife’s Mac started having the same problem. I have then applied the solution that I found in the Apple
Prizmo: OCR for Cameras
I can remember buying my first scanner from PC World. It could do everything, scan photos, scan photographic slides and even scan pages of text and convert them into a Microsoft Word file (known as Optical Character Recognition).
Thinking of all the university essays I was going to enhance with this newly found ability to OCR documents I headed home, plugged in the parallel device and like many others world changing devices of the time I was disappointed.
It would have been quicker typing the documents in given the time it took to fix the OCR errors!
Well, too many years later technology has taken yet another leap. Scanners have come and gone and now Prizmo claims to be able to successfully OCR text from a photo taken from any digital camera.
Given applications like Evernote can identify and search text in photos I was keen to give this new application a try. Pirzmo is powerful application with a really simple user interface.
The software opens with an invitation to drag your photo into a working area. Once in place you draw a square around the text you want to recognise and ‘binarize’ it slightly to optimise the recognition and then copy and paste the recognised text into your desired application.
I tried the software on four different documents, all white paper with black text and attempted a number of different angled photographs.
Happily and almost surprisingly they all worked perfectly. Hoping that the current generation of students would feel the same pains I did trying to OCR I decided I really wanted to the test Prizmo to the limit so found some text printed in two colours on a red background.
Perhaps a challenge too far but I took a photo of the text at a slight angle with the iPhone 3Gs (3 megapixel camera). I dragged the photo into Prizmo and selected the text area.
I then tweaked the image using the ‘image controls’ to make it black and white and then inverted the image so the text was black on white. This is very simple with Prizmo and literally took two or three seconds.
The amount of image control in Prizmo is impressive for a $40 application and any further problems with recognition can be reduced by calibrating the software for your camera. Creaceed have also made it possible for users to swap their camera calibration files so there is no excuse for the perfect OCR.
Once inverted I right clicked on the text area and selected “copy whole area” and pasted it directly below. The only changes I made were adjustment to the line breaks (the line breaks were identical to the above image and I also removed the bullet point between Disney and Pixar :
“From Disney Pixar comes UP, a comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfils his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 9-year-old named Russell.”
Prizmo supports all digital cameras with the proviso that the higher resolution the better the results. Although you can get good results even with your iPhone camera. A 10 megapixel image is roughly as good as, or even better than a 300 dpi US-Letter scan. With some image processing improvements and binarization, you can even go beyond 600 dpi with such images.
This is a great application. If you have a phone camera it offers the ability to snap, edit and print whatever document is in front of you. The application couldn’t be easier to use with zero learning curve and even with the iPhone camera the software worked without issue.
Applications could be :
- archive your receipts invoices and make them Spotlight indexable?
- save your receipts on a hard disk for the day you might get a tax control?
- get rid of the business cards which are all over your office?
- copy a document although you don’t have a copier at home?
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