Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2010: 9. DocuScan Pluss may Change how we do OCR

We're continuing our annual look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2010. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon and Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog to help create our list. We'll present one item every day until we reach number 1. Today, Jamie Pauls contributes his thoughts on a new OCR solution at number 9.

Coming in at number nine on the list of top stories for 2010 is DocuScan Plus, a cloud-based OCR solution from Serotek. For years, blind people have relied on optical character recognition to read books, letters, bills, and work-related documents just to name a few practical applications. While the price of scanners has decreased over the years, the cost of easy-to-use OCR applications has remained prohibitive for many. Also, the software needed to process scanned material can be resource-intensive, slowing PC’s down and requiring quite a bit of hard drive space for software and scanned documents. Serotek’s DocuScan Plus product uses the Internet to run the OCR software and store files which can be accessed from any PC with an Internet connection. The promise of future support for portable devices such as the iPhone would mean that scanning and reading documents could be done with a piece of hardware that fits into one’s pocket. At a cost of $300, about a third the cost of other OCR software, DocuScan Plus has the potential to revolutionize how blind people access print documents.

Serotek's DocuScan Plus is number 9 on this year's list. We're back tomorrow with another entry in our countdown.

Category: Articles
Displaying 3 comments.
Kelly Wednesday, 29-Dec-2010 11:10 AM ET:

What Serotek has not argued and others have not analyzed is the benefit of this product compared to simply purchasing Omni Page 17 for $69 and installing it on your computer. Serotek claims this offers the same ease of use giving the same OCR results as OpenBook or K1000 for less than a third of the price. Yet, I have not seen a compelling argument advanced for purchasing this product, which is more than four times the cost of OmniPage, which this product uses as its OCR engine.

darknexus Wednesday, 29-Dec-2010 3:33 PM ET:

I don't get it. For about a hundred bucks more, I could have a genuine Omnipage Professional (in fact I do) that works great with whatever screen reader I choose to use and doesn't need the cloud. Quite honestly, when looking at OCR, we need to take a step back from the blindness-specific products and look at what's really out there. It doesn't have to be designed specifically for us to work great for us.

lordjeff Monday, 03-Jan-2011 3:41 PM ET:

I have kurz, abbyy, omnipage and docuscan plus. The item the commenters seem to have missed is that this product is the cheapest blindness specific OCR system out there. That the results it gives are several orders of magnitude better than it's predecessor (document scan); that it is several orders of magnitude easier to use for the average person than omnipage; that it converts PDFs and other document types surprisingly well and in many cases better than omnipage; that it will shortly support OCR from a mobile phone (the iPhone) which you won't get with omnipage; that it can OCR from anywhere without installing software (i.e. go to a friend's place and as long as they have a scanner or digital camera hooked up to their PC you can OCR without installing anything on their PC but simply logging in to SA to Go); that it can produce daisy, braille, text and other formats as an output and lastly that it's not resource intensive like other OCR systems. Yes, there are mainstream options; and yes they work fine; but at the end of the day, I just want to get things done as fast as I can, as easy as I can, with as few steps as I can; and with the least amount of financial investment in my solution. So far, the OCR system I actually use is DocuScan Plus.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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