Readiris Pro 11 for Mac

Belgian OCR software creators, IRIS have sent us the latest version of Readiris Pro 11. This software package has the ability to recognise as many as 118 languages, including ones that I’ve never even heard of. The basic premise of Readiris Pro is the ability to recognise text in your documents and convert to any of the many formats that it’s compatible with.

What does it do?
OCR stands for optical character recognition and lets you convert text in images and scanned documents in to real editable text. This works for both printed text and to a certain extent, hand-written text.

How can it be used?
Readiris Pro can be used to produce near enough every type of document imaginable from scanned images.

I ran through the following tests on the software:

– Recognising coloured printed text
– Recognising coloured background with text
– Copy and pasting text directly from image in to Word
– Recognising hand printed notes
– Recognising text in French
– Recognising tables and exporting in to Excel

The outcome of the tests?
This software package delivers on its promise with the results of the test proving that the OCR engine that Readiris has developed delivers on its promise.

The only slight glitch that appeared in one of the tests was it mis-recognising a character here and there, but nothing that proof reading wouldn’t resolve. However, what if you’re scanning a document with thousands of words on it and you’re using Readiris Pro to recognise the words on it. You can see where I’m going with that right?

I have to give the engineers and developers of this application credit for how smart this OCR software is. The claimed 99.9% is near enough accurate to how well it works.

Handwriting recognition
I was interested to test out how well the handwriting recognition part of this OCR package would work. With a sceptical mind set from the start I didn’t believe anything but human intelligence, and even then, could recognise my handwriting. This was my first test for Readiris Pro and without reading any instructions or following any guidelines it worked as I thought it would.

With my best handwriting, the ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) wasn’t able to recognise my text. All that came out was garbled text with a mixture of irrelevant characters.

Using block capital letters with appropriate spacing written in a legible manner, Readiris Pro still struggled to recognise what I was writing. At that point I decided to call it a day on the handwriting recognition.

I’ve not used OCR for a long time since there’s such vast information on the web that can be used for research and reference that it’s rare for me to need to scan documents in for OCR.

The speed and accuracy that Readiris Pro recognises printed text is phenomenal. You can literally import a document in to this package in any one of the 118 languages it’s compatible with and it will spit it out again straight in to an editable document or a PDF file.

Based on what I have read up on previous versions of Readiris Pro, version 11 has been updated to be in the Universal Binary fold as well as having that brushed metal look. I can’t complain about performance with my setup (Core Duo 2.0GHz, 1GB RAM MacBook Pro), but naturally, the more documents I was doing in one go, the longer it would take. When dealing with the odd document now and again or even a batch of documents that you want converting, Readiris Pro offers both accuracy and performance.

The straightforward interface and straightforward documentation (for when you need it!) offered to-the-point help with ‘How to guides’ and all registered users get free online technical support which is definitely a bonus.

If you’re looking for a software package that will recognise handwritten text or notes, so for those students out there who want to scan all their lecture notes in and edit in a text file, tough luck! You need to look elsewhere if anyone does such an application. Intelligent character recognition simply isn’t advanced enough for mainstream use and at best forces users to write in the neatest and most proper print possible.

I would put ICR back in the oven for a few more years before it’s useable. The OCR recognition engine is a different story. It’s pretty muh cracked in this version of Readiris Pro. The asking price of £70 is very reasonable considering the degree of power that is on offer as well as it being an invaluable business tool. Home users may find this a steep asking price, but I believe that this software is aimed more towards the business sector.

2007-03-30 Onwah Tsang

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