At the 2010 NGS Conference GenTech Luncheon David Rencher presented “The Top 10 Areas Where Technology Can Still Make a Real Difference in Genealogy : Could You Please Hurry?” In “We Want Tech and We Want It Now” I review technologies already available, at least in infant form. Today I look at:
# 9 OCR Handwriting
David Rencher would like a viewing lens that would read handwritten documents, like the “magic lens” shown to the right from www.DoHistory.org. Drag the magic lens over a handwritten document and magically the text is shown clearly.
Well, David, let me give you a status report on this technology.
Some limited applications are already available. A2iA can do envelopes and checks. It can classify document types, and it can read form fields.
The now defunct BYU Family History Technology Workshop showcased student research for several years, including free form handwriting recognition. For example,
- “Progress with Searchable Indexes for Handwritten Documents” (PDF)
- “Interactive Smoothing of Handwritten Text Images Using a Bilateral filter” (PDF)
- “Handwriting Recognition for Genealogical Records” (PPT)
- “Using a Hidden-Markov Model in Semi-Automatic Indexing of Historical Handwritten Records” (PDF)
- “Towards Searchable Indexes for Handwritten Documents” (PDF)
- “Thresholding of Text Documents” (PDF)
Sorry, David. Technology is a long way away from providing a “Magic lens.”
Do you know of other work being done to read old handwriting automatically? Share your discoveries here by leaving a comment.