Learn more about OCR API and how you can easily set up a completely automated data pipeline with it.
September 14, 2023
In the digital world, businesses thrive on data. The vast world of structured and unstructured data helps them in decision-making, strategic planning, and operational optimization. But to make the most out of this data, businesses actively look for new technologies. One such technology is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) API - which seamlessly bridges the gap between the physical and digital information.
It empowers you by swiftly transforming printed and handwritten text and images into machine-readable digital formats. From automating data entry to ensuring enhanced accuracy, OCR opens up a world of opportunities for you. This article is going to delve further into the details of OCR API, its working, benefits, and more!
What Is OCR API?
OCR API is a technology that enables computers to identify and extract text from images or scanned documents. It's a vital tool in the digital age for automating data entry, making documents searchable, and improving accessibility. Developers can integrate this technology into their applications and services, allowing for efficient text extraction from various sources.
How Is OCR API Related to Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)?
OCR engines are capable of recognizing and extracting texts from images and turn them into machine-encoded texts; however, the texts aren’t organized into structured formats like rows or columns or key-value pairs. The results need to be further organized for applications or software to ingest them.
By integrating OCR with other AI technologies like ML, NLP, and LLMs, Intelligent Document Processing takes one step further and converts images into structured data formats like JSON, CSV, XML, etc. These AI technologies enables IDP solutions to process documents with dynamic layouts like receipt, invoice, and purchase orders, which are often hard for the traditional rule-based or template-based solutions to process.
Note that although OCR is a part of IDP solutions, the terms OCR API or OCR software are often used to refer to IDP.
How Does OCR API Work?
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) API uses AI algorithms and machine learning models to recognize and extract text from images or scanned documents. Here's a step-by-step explanation of how this API typically functions:
You start by providing the OCR with an image or document that contains the text. This image could be in various formats, including JPEG, PNG, PDF, or even scanned documents.
Before OCR begins, the solution may perform pre-processing on the image. This can involve noise reduction, image enhancement, and optimization to improve the quality of text recognition.
The OCR identifies regions within the image where text is located. It determines the boundaries of individual words, lines, or paragraphs. Some OCR APIs can also detect handwriting and various languages.
In this critical step, the API analyzes each character within the identified text regions. It uses pattern recognition techniques, machine learning models, and language databases to decipher the characters and convert them into machine-readable text.
Extracted Text or Structured Data as Output
This API will then return texts or structured data, depending on whether the solution is powered by other AI technologies, which you can use for various purposes.
Use Cases of OCR API
Let's have a look at the use cases of Optical Character Recognition API across various industries:
The finance industry benefits significantly from OCR in invoice processing. Businesses leverage these APIs to automate information extraction from financial documents like invoices, receipts, bank statements, etc., reducing manual data entry errors and expediting accounts payable processes. Furthermore, expense tracking applications use OCR to scan and extract transaction details from receipts, simplifying personal and business expense management.
In the telecommunications industry, ensuring client identity verification is essential to prevent misuse of services. Telecom service providers typically request new customers to provide copies of their passports or ID cards to prevent fraudsters from registering devices or numbers under someone else's name.
Using OCR technology can make this process much more efficient, quickly extracting the necessary information from the scanned documents. This helps in faster customer onboarding while maintaining high-security standards.
Collecting and leveraging consumer data to know their preferences is essential to running a successful retail business; however, information like the date and time of the purchase, the total amount of products bought, names of the products, etc. is usually trapped in images or PDF files. With OCR API or IDP solutions connected to retail loyalty app, these images can be converted to JSON and returned to the software for loyalty point accumulation and consumer behavior analysis too.
Challenges of Using OCR API
Let's delve into the challenges often faced when working with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in more detail:
One of the common challenges when using OCR is dealing with blurry documents or images. When the source material is unclear or has low resolution, OCR accuracy can be significantly compromised. Blurriness can lead to misinterpretations of characters or even the inability to recognize text altogether.
Tilted or skewed images pose another challenge for OCR. If the text is not perfectly horizontal, traditional OCR algorithms may struggle to interpret the text correctly. This can result in errors in the extracted text or even incomplete recognition.
Handwritten texts present a unique challenge for OCR. Unlike printed text, handwriting can vary significantly in style and legibility, making it more difficult to recognize. While OCR technology has made significant advancements in identifying handwritten characters, it may still struggle with highly stylized or cursive handwriting.
Requires Extensive Work for Post-processing
While OCR provides a valuable service, the extracted text may require significant post-processing efforts. This is especially true when dealing with complex layouts, multiple fonts, or non-standard text formatting. Post-processing tasks may include correcting recognized errors, formatting adjustments, and ensuring the document's coherence. All this takes substantial time for your team!
Top OCR API to Consider in 2023
Some of the common types of Optical Character Recognition API are:
FormX is an Intelligent Document Processing with API-based data extraction where results are return in JSON format. It comes with a set of pre-built data extraction models, or extractors, including invoice, receipt, proof of address, bill of lading, etc., for businesses to easily turn images of various documents into structured data and send it to other applications via API to form a completely automated data pipeline. Furthermore, users can easily train their own extractors with as little as one to three samples and just a few minutes with the help of large language models.
We recently redesigned our API to bring a simpler and more consistent experience for you. Check it out here.
Microsoft Azure Computer Vision
Azure Computer Vision is a comprehensive API offered by Microsoft Azure. It helps you in the in-depth analysis of content within images and videos so that you can extract textual information and associated data from these sources. Using it, you can speed up content discoverability and analysis, which helps you make informed and timely decisions.
Furthermore, this versatile tool finds utility in various OCR scenarios, including Click OCR Text, Hover OCR Text, Double Click OCR Text, Retrieving OCR Text, and Locating the Position of OCR Text. The best part is that Computer Vision API also supports handwriting recognition, which is useful in scenarios involving handwritten documents.
Google Cloud Vision API
Google Cloud Vision API is another robust OCR solution. It excels in text extraction and image analysis tasks. It can identify and extract text from images in multiple languages. On top of these things, this OCR type detects objects, faces, and labels within images, making it versatile for applications that require both text recognition and image understanding.
Remember that using Google Cloud Vision OCR API isn't a piece of cake. You should possess programming skills and be comfortable with coding. Along with that, experience in integrating user interfaces for scanning and data validation is beneficial.
Amazon Textract, part of Amazon Web Services (AWS), primarily focuses on document text extraction. It uses deep learning models to efficiently extract text and data from various documents, including scanned images, PDFs, and forms.
Textract can identify structured data like tables and key-value pairs, making it well-suited for automating data entry and document processing workflows. It's a specialized OCR service within the AWS ecosystem.
How Does OCR API Pricing Work?
This API pricing operates on several models, often tailored to accommodate various needs and usage patterns. A prevalent approach is usage-based pricing, where you pay according to the number of OCR requests or pages processed. You may also get an OCR free API, which means a free trial for the API, allowing you to evaluate the service with limited usage before committing to a paid plan. Some other common pricing structures, like subscriptions, character count, format file, pay-as-you-go, etc., are also offered by some providers.
FormX.ai offers the best OCR API solution for all your data extraction and conversion needs, and its pricing is given as follows:
The OCR API Free Trial allows you to explore our features at no cost. You can process up to 100 pages for free.
The Starter package is tailored for businesses looking to automate their processes as they grow. It is priced at USD 299 per month per extractor and includes an allocation of 1,000 pages for processing.
The Enterprise package is designed for organizations with higher volumes and the need for enhanced security and control. Pricing details are available upon contacting our sales team for a personalized quote.
This tier encompasses all the features included in the Starter package. It offers the option for a standard or tailor-made [Service Level Agreement (SLA). You'll have a Dedicated Account Manager for personalized support. Client onboarding services are provided, and you can also enjoy a white-labeled user interface (UI).
FormX is a compelling OCR API or Intelligent Document Processing solution, excelling in API management and multiple other aspects. Our platform also empowers users with real-time receipt scanning and data extraction through a user-friendly mobile scan SDK and OCR API. With the ability to swiftly and accurately extract data from diverse documents types, FormX streamlines various workflows by eliminating manual data entry, making it an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. It stands out with an exceptional 90%+ extraction accuracy, a testament to its commitment to precision.
OCR APIs continue to advance, enhancing text and data extraction from images and documents. Nonetheless, there are challenges like blurriness, difference in layouts, handwriting that need to be properly addressed.
FormX can tackle these problems and has helped various businesses automate data extraction. Get in touch with us today or sign up for a free trial to see how FormX can be a cost-effective solution from which your business can benefit.