Putting the AI in OCR
Today in London
Today’s short trip to London included a meeting with the CFO of a very interesting company that is using AI to improve recognition and capture of text elements from semi-structured OCR captured documents.
Wait, isn’t OCR already AI?
Whilst the strict definition of Artificial Intelligence hasn’t really changed much over the decades, the interpretation of that into real world applications, as per AI’s definition, has.
Many years ago, indeed when I was programming neural network on Z80 processors and studying LISP, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was indeed an AI venture. Since then, it has come on leaps and bounds and become much more something computers can do, thereby taking out of the definition of AI.
However, OCR has its limitations and the company I met today is overcoming one of those.
The company (contact us for company details) is using AI to help OCR systems be more aware of the document type they are looking at, enabling them to extract structured data from semi-structured scanned documents.
Solving for where paper processes still exist
There are many industries that rely on paper documents as part of their processes. Whether they are banks looking at pay-checks for proof of income, football associations dealing with faxed transfer documents, or logistics companies dealing with manifests, each has a set of documents that contain the same data points, laid out in a variety of ways. To take a well known example – there’s probably thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of different variations of invoice formats, but every company that processes them needs the same basic information from them, and this variety keeps many accounts payable teams busy.
The beauty of the solution I explored today, is that it slips right between existing enterprise systems responsible for capture and storage, speeding up the interpretation step, without having significant impact on the in-place systems.
I can already think of a handful of companies that could benefit from this technology, and will be calling a few of them this week.
One of the things I love about meetings like this in London, is the network effect of the people you meet.
The gentleman I was speaking to has had a wealth of experience, and even today he dabbles in more than one venture.
With the hum of a WeWork in the background, our conversation covered the highs and lows of start-up life, additional exciting ventures to watch (one a white-label digital banking company and another that enables seamless rewards direct from consumer purchases) to stories and experiences from the travel industry to hi-tech startups in the Bay Area.
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