I’m looking for an OCR app that lets me read printed material more like I used to read when I was sighted. It seems like artificial intelligence should make this possible. Here’s some examples.
Example 1: Receipts. I want to skip past the name and address, date and time, phone and fax numbers, web page URLs, and advertisements. I only want to read the itemized list of my purchases and their prices.
Example 2: Restaurant menus. I want to skip past entire sections like appetizers and entrees, find the sandwich section, read through the titles of each sandwich, then read the full description and price for the two or three sandwiches I’m interested in.
Example 3: Tax forms. As a sighted person, I can use cues like font sizes, boxes, and tables to get a feel for the layout of the form, skip past unimportant sections or instructions, read a few lines of text, and find the one box with the one number I’m looking for.
Example 4: Mailed package labels. When someone delivers a package, I want to glance at the label and see whether it’s for me or my spouse. I should be able to quickly ignore GUIDs and other information that is meaningful only to the shipper.
All of these examples have one thing in common. The printed material displays information organized visually in a way that is obvious if you’re sighted, making it trivial to disregard extraneous text and quickly find pertinent information. And, in all these examples, existing OCR apps completely fail to detect and preserve that organization.
Artificial intelligence should be able to detect and preserve the visual, often hierarchical, organization of printed information and present it to blind users in a well-organized manner that’s easy for us to navigate and comprehend. We should not have to try to zero in on key information manually, as with Seeing AI’s short text feature. Nor should we be forced to wade through line after line of flat text, as with KNFB Reader or Seeing AI’s document feature. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. These OCR apps are great. I just expect that artificial intelligence should do a much better job at processing and organizing scanned text before it presents it to blind users.
If there’s a smarter OCR app out there that does what I want, please make my day and tell me about it.