The future of data capture systems: Imitating human behaviour

Data capture for invoices ought to have been solved a long time ago! That’s what most people think, especially if they’ve never tried to actually do it.

That’s what we thought when we started talking to customers, looking for the ideal application of Rossum’s machine vision technology. It is genuinely surprising how hard this problem actually is, and how big an advantage a human mind has compared to a fixed algorithm. That’s also the reason Rossum’s approach stands out so much within this domain.

cognitive data capture and RPA

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OCR machine learning

All over the world, thousands of employees spend their days doing the unrewarding task of manually copying data from paper or PDF-formatted documents into computer systems. The answer is to give these employees the power of automation so that they can do their jobs efficiently and focus on other tasks that are more rewarding and contribute to the growth of their organizations. However, one of the key limiting factors of most attempts at automating document-based processes is that the vast majority of all business data remains in unstructured formats. 

Structured data formats are formats that are easy for computer systems to process and understand. They follow certain standardized patterns, enabling computers to know where to look for data and how to interpret the data correctly for extraction and verification. Examples of structured data formats include things like MS Word Documents and Excel spreadsheets. These formats are readily accepted by automation tools and software applications. So, the challenge becomes extracting the data from unstructured formats and entering that data into computer systems without relying on manual labor. This is where OCR machine learning tools can be truly effective. 

What are OCR machine learning tools? In order to answer that question, we must first address OCR itself. OCR is short for optical character recognition and is a kind of software that enables a computer to identify data values within an unstructured format. There are two main categories of OCR. The first is the traditional template-based OCR, and the second is the more advanced AI-enabled OCR. Template-based OCR relies on preconfigured templates and written rules that tell a computer how to extract the data from each type of document. 

This kind of OCR works well when there is little variation, but begins to be inaccurate when you have more variability. Where these tools fail, AI-enabled OCR succeeds. Using machine learning and a technology called “neural networking,” these advanced systems can “read” a document much like a human and use context to understand the nature of the data. This makes them capable of accurately extracting data from a much wider range of documents. 

OCR machine learning Github

One of the best ways to learn more about the nuts and bolts of AI-enabled data capture is to simply type in “OCR machine learning GitHub.” GitHub is a repository site often used by software developers to share different versions of their code. Some programs on the site are full-blown open-source tools that you can download and use to build your own applications, while others are experiments or proof-of-concept releases. Simply typing in “OCR GitHub” or “document segmentation deep learning GitHub” will return these kinds of programs and technology solutions. Document segmentation is one of the most important models in machine learning when it comes to data extraction. Basically, it refers to the practice of dividing a document into meaningful parts, which helps the machine more accurately extract data from documents.

The repositories on GitHub are well organized, making it easy to find programs on topics like text recognition GitHub. Searching for GitHub Table-OCR will pull up programs describing table-based data capture. Table-based data capture is actually a very difficult task for machines. Most AI programs find it difficult to ensure that the data is placed in the correct cells. The team at Rossum AI has spent a lot of time researching to develop an accurate solution that can be used to extract data for documents such as invoices that have tables

OCR deep learning

One thing that will become clear if you run a search like “deep learning OCR GitHub” is that there are many different kinds of machine learning models and algorithms that can be used for data extraction. Some models are focused on natural language processing (NLP) which can be helpful for live chat situations, while others are focused on accurately extracting handwriting or blurry text. This kind of OCR deep learning model can be very helpful when dealing with imperfectly scanned paper documents. Since each model is a little different when it comes to machine learning OCR solutions, it’s important to thoroughly understand the model that your solution uses.

Rossum’s AI-enabled OCR has a unique “skim-reading” model based on the way humans tend to read documents. First, Rossum focuses its attention on the most important points in the document, skimming its way to the bottom. Then, Rossum goes back and reads through the whole thing more carefully, using the overall context to fill in interpretation of the information. That is exactly how we’ve designed Rossum to be able to read documents. This enables the system to achieve incredibly high levels of accuracy across a wide range of variable document formats and styles. 

OCR algorithm

As we have already mentioned, an OCR algorithm ultimately falls into one of two categories – template-based or cognitive. Within the cognitive, algorithms are designed to identify each character at a time. However, the models that have been shown to be more accurate involve the system scanning the overall document and building spatial awareness of where the important information is. Basically, the system creates a “mental” map of the document and then compares that with other known document formats so that it knows what kind of document it is. For example, when a human looks at an invoice, they know what it is. This is the case even if the fonts, color, style, and even information placement are different from any invoice we had seen before. 

Using our biological neural network, we are able to identify what kind of document it is. OCR image processing using artificial intelligence seeks to accomplish the same objective but with machines instead of humans. Optical character recognition software is the first step in bringing the power of automation to your business processes. Not only can you use text recognition algorithms to capture data, but you can also use this technology to revolutionize the way you manage documents. Rossum is more than just an OCR solution. Rather, our platform is designed to be an Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) solution that can help you manage every aspect of your business documents. 

Pre-trained OCR model

One of the things you’ll want to look for when comparing different OCR models and solutions is whether or not the platform comes with a pre-trained OCR model. What is a pre-trained OCR model? Simply put, this refers to the fact that artificial intelligence machines don’t need to be shown lots of examples in order for them to be able to recognize patterns and deliver results. This showing of patterns and running through of examples is a process referred to as “training” machines. The best OCR model is pre-trained, saving you time and hassle. 

A pre-trained document management solution like Rossum has already been shown thousands of variations of different documents so that it is more than capable of automatically scanning and recognizing your own business documents. With a pre-trained OCR solution, you can get straight down to work, automatically extracting data from hundreds of invoices with just a few clicks. 

Optical character recognition algorithm

An optical character recognition algorithm can be very complex or fairly simple. On a character-by-character basis, most OCR solutions work in a similar way. OCR systems start by scanning the area for text to identify what it assumes to be a group of characters. Then, it assigns values of either 1 or 0 to every pixel in the general vicinity of the characters based on whether or not the color present is white or black.

All of the 1s are black and indicate the shape of each character. The OCR model can then compare the map of the 1s and 0s with previous maps that it has learned during the pre-training phase and accurately identify what characters make up the data. Beyond characters, the best algorithm for OCR takes into account context and the spatial distribution of the information. Repeated testing has shown that this kind of model is more efficient and accurate than other kinds of OCR models. 

OCR handwriting

Artificial intelligence in the data capture space has been developing rapidly over the past several years. Special OCR handwriting models have even been developed so that computers can recognize signatures and any other handwritten values in documents. Reading an OCR paper and studying different OCR examples are two great methods of learning more about this field. 

Some other notable developments in machine learning models include the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) and the Convolutional Recurrent Neural Network (CRNN) model. BERT is a fascinating deep learning strategy that helps computers define and understand vague or ambiguous words in the text. By scanning the text from both left-to-right and right-to-left simultaneously, the BERT technique allows machines to predict the meaning of words. The end result is that text extraction is more accurate and is able to correct typos automatically. 

To learn more about this technology, you can go online and search for “Best OCR GitHub.” This will bring up code as well as more information about the model and how it can be used in this space. The CRNN attention model is another model for increasing the speed of learning and the accuracy of text recognition for machine learning applications. Another way to learn more about these kinds of developments is to watch an OCR tutorial. It’s important to do your own research so that you understand how this technology can help your business process documents faster.

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