As an introduction to this topic, it would be best to explain what OCR stands for and what it does.

When discussing technology and computers, ‘OCR’ is the common abbreviation for Optical Character Recognition and involves the electronic translation of scanned, handwritten or typed text images into a digital form that a computer can manipulate.

All OCR systems include an optical scanner for reading the text, and also include sophisticated software for analyzing and processing the image.  This sophisticated software utilizes algorithms and identification mechanisms in order to review the curvature and outline of the provided text for proper recognition.  Although some OCR options may utilize hardware and software in combination to achieve desired results, the more frequently used and cost effective option is strictly software based.

OCR is widely used to convert books, magazine articles, and documents into electronic files in order to create a digital record-keeping system.  This makes it possible to edit the text or quickly search for a word or phrase in what was once data in a printed form.

Now you may ask, “What does OCR have to do with faxing?”  To answer this, most faxing applications may utilize OCR as an option for routing.  Some smaller environments may have more basic telephony systems and cannot afford the overhead of multiple lines for unique recipient routing, and this is where the OCR technology may become very valuable.

A suggested implementation of the OCR technology being utilized with a faxing application would be in an environment where resumes may be faxed to a Human Resources department.  As a job opening becomes available, keywords may be implemented in an OCR module of the faxing application to define the position; this allows for saving much time in unnecessary resume review.  Because an OCR module review may take a fraction of the time of a human review, a Human Resource professional may be able to focus on other delegated duties.

The GFI FAXmaker faxing application provides an optional OCR module which can be used to route to a single employee based on the name, and also allows for routing based on keyword(s).  Although OCR is not a 100% effective technology (handwritten text may be harder to parse and analyze), it is still a great option for any small business, and its effectiveness continues to progress as the technology improves.