Optical Character Recognition Systems
Optical character recognition (OCR) systems provide persons who are blind or visually impaired with the capacity to scan printed text and then have it spoken in synthetic speech or saved to a computer file. There are three essential elements to OCR technology—scanning, recognition, and reading text.
Initially, a printed document is scanned by a camera. OCR software then converts the images into recognized characters and words and creates temporary files containing the text’s characters and page layout. The recognition process takes account of the logical structure of the language. An OCR system will deduce that the word “tke” at the beginning of a sentence is a mistake and should be read as the word “the.” OCR systems also use a lexicon and apply spell-checking techniques similar to those found in many word processors. The synthesizer in the OCR system then speaks the recognized text. Finally, the information is stored in an electronic form. In some OCRs these temporary files can be converted into formats retrievable by commonly used computer software such as word processors, spreadsheets, and databases. A person who is blind or visually impaired can access the scanned text by using adaptive technology devices that magnify the computer screen or provide speech or braille output.
Current generation OCR systems provide very good accuracy and formatting capabilities at prices that are up to ten times lower than a few years ago. The price for the most popular PC-based OCR systems is about $1,000. This does not include the personal computer and screen access equipment. Prices of self-contained OCR systems and those that come bundled with a PC range from $3,500 to $5,500.
Here are some questions to ask when purchasing optical character recognition systems:
• Do you prefer a stand-alone OCR product or a software-based product?
• Is the software-based OCR system compatible with your computer’s operating system?
• Do you require screen-reading capabilities in addition to the OCR?
• Do you require braille output?
21 Products in Category
|Product Name||Product Description||Distributor Contact|
|Cicero Text Reader||Scans printed documents and turns them into speech or braille. Cicero starts talking automatically as soon as the page scan is complete. Documents can be displayed in large print on screen and can be edited, saved, and printed.|
|Complete Reading System||OCR with scanning and reading program functions that can be activated with a press of a single key. The F5 key activates the scanner and recognizes the text and the F6 key activates speech. Has full talking menus and does not require a screen reader.|
|Extreme Reader ER1||A stand-alone system designed for beginners that features four-button operation, high-contrast tactile keys and AT&T's Natural Voices speech engine. A built-in CD player can read both DAISY and music CDs.|
|Extreme Reader XR1||A stand-alone system with a high-contrast keypad for users with low vision. A built-in CD player can read both DAISY and music CDs. Speech is provided by AT&T's Natural Voices speech engine.|
|Extreme Reader XR10||A stand-alone system designed for power users. It features a 31-operation keypad, high contrast tactile keys and AT&T's Natural Voices speech engine. A built-in CD player can read both DAISY and music CDs. Scanned text and CD content can be converted to MP3 format and exported to a companion MP3 player.|
|Eye-Pal Reader||A USB device with a camera on a stand. The camera uses a motion detector to know when to scan a page of text. The text is spoken and can be saved.||Order Eye-Pal Reader from The Chicago Lighthouse Store|
|ezVIP||A simplified version of VIP which can be operated with a 4-button trackball or number keypad. Can be set up to scan and save a single page or up to 10 pages, with saved pages replaced one-by-one with successive scans. Has same reading view and voice, color, font, size, spacing options and online and keypad help as VIP. Scans text and pictures.|
|knfbReader Mobile||A portable optical character recognition system installed on the Nokia N82 or 6220 cell phones which uses the phone's digital camera. It scans text and reads it aloud with synthetic speech. The user holds the phone over print, and it snaps a picture. It reads the contents of the printed document in clear synthetic speech. The scanned text can be deleted, stored for later reading, or transferred to a computer or PDA. To aid the user in aiming the camera, the unit provides a spoken Field of View report, telling the user which of the edges of a document are within the camera's field of view and how large the image is in the viewing area.||Order knfbReader Mobile from The Chicago Lighthouse Store|
|Kurzweil 1000||Converts print into speech. Scans books, articles and bills, and reads the information out loud. Scanned text can be saved for future reference and modification. Can be used to open and read a variety of electronic text formats and search, download, and read electronic books and magazines directly from sites such as Bookshare.org, Web-Braille and other electronic repositories.|
|Kurzweil 3000||Displays printed or electronic text on the computer screen. Text can be spoken by a speech synthesizer or read by the user on the computer screen. Available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms.|
|Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader||A portable optical character recognition system combining an off-the-shelf personal digital assistant (PDA) with a digital camera. This handheld unit scans text and reads it aloud with synthetic speech. The user holds the unit's camera over print, and it snaps a picture. It reads the contents of the printed document in clear synthetic speech. The scanned text can be deleted, stored for later reading, or transferred to a computer or PDA. To aid the user in aiming the camera, the unit provides a spoken Field of View report, telling the user which of the edges of a document are within the camera's field of view and how large the image is in the viewing area. There is also a viewfinder for use by sighted people. The device has nine control buttons, a visual display screen, and a headphone jack. Express mode makes the Reader easier to operate for people with dexterity problems.|
|MobilEyes||Portable reading machine which also has magnification and audio book and music playing capabilities. Also has digital recorder a 10 megapixel camera, a bar code scanner and can play audio games.|
|OpenBook||Scans and converts printed documents or graphics-based text into an electronic text format. Provides two text-to-speech software synthesizers—RealSpeak, which features a natural human-sounding voice, and ViaVoice, which provides practical and efficient speech for editing or skimming documents. Supports most hardware speech synthesizers. Other features include a fax utility, copy function, and online book search.|
|Optical Braille Recognition||Windows software that scans braille documents and converts them to text with a Hewlett-Packard scanner. The text can then be used in various Windows applications.|
|Ovation||Portable optical character recognition system that scans and stores text of any kind and converts it to adjustable audio-output. Flatbed scanner accommodates newspapers, books, and magazines. Stores chapters of up to 20 pages. Provides audio cues to signal the beginning and end of a successful scan.|
|Portset Reader||Stand-alone scanner with British English speech incorporating a male and two female voices. Can be used to read letters, books, magazines, and bills. Has a built-in floppy disk drive that allows for the transfer of any scanned document to a firstname.lastname@example.org|
|SARA Scanning and Reading Appliance||Stand-alone reading machine that allows users to scan and read books, bills, magazines and other documents. Reads in 29 human-sounding voices, 19 language dialects and 12 languages. An optional display screen or a television screen may be used to magnify text and customize background color schemes. The majority of the buttons are big and colorful with tactile shapes that differentiate one from another.||Order SARA Scanning and Reading Appliance from The Chicago Lighthouse Store|
|ScannaR||Stand-alone, compact, flatbed scanner that scans text and reads it aloud. Includes speech and volume controls, storage for 500,000 pages at a time, and direct connection to the BrailleNote.||email@example.com|
|Simon Reading Machine||New version of the Pronto stand-alone reading machine with a flatbed scanner. Has two commands (start and stop), three voice settings (volume, speed and pitch), and easy-to-remember text navigation cursor firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Text Cloner Pro||Scanning software designed to work with a user’s existing screen reader. Has two different scanning methods: high-speed and high-detailed|
|VIP||Scans and automatically converts text into the user-selected type font and letter size, 9 voice options, letter spacing, colors, and reading view. Once configured, ezVIP operation is performed with number keypad and keyboard. Text is also spoken in 2 of the 4 reading views (Word Wrap and RSVP). Reading views include: Word Wrap fills the screen with text; RSVP displays one word at a time; Marquee smoothly scrolls a single line across the screen; ImageView shows you the original page and a magnified line of text scrolling beneath it. Also scans and saves pictures which can be enlarged. Online help and one-key keypad help (voiced and large print) – intuitive on-screen “buttons” identify keypad keys to be used. Scanned text can be edited. Can be used with CCTV with PC connection to display split screen camera image and VIP word processor text.|