Getting the most out of your document capture solution – Multistream, color dropout for forms processing

Leveraging an investment in scanning hardware and software should always be a priority.  After all these are typically not cheap investments although the ROI can be outstanding if implemented properly.

In this blog I would like to share some little known, yet extremely useful, features that can dramatically improve forms processing automation and accuracy.  I am occasionally asked about these features and I believe if more people knew these were available then it would help improve efficiency in the capture process tremendously.

Multistream – Multiple versions of one captured image

The first feature I would like to explain is “Multistream”.  As the word would indicate this means that for each image captured, the scanner can output two or more versions of the image.  Why in the world would anyone want to do this you ask?  Good question and the answer is to improve Forms Processing data extraction accuracy.  Typically when people use Multistream they will output a color version of the image and a bitonal (black and white) version of the image.  The color version is stored for the purpose of retaining an electronic version of the original document.  This version of the image is for human’s to retrieve and view images.  However, the bitonal version is used for the capture technology such as OCR to process by computers.  Bitonal images are preferred for OCR because the color is unnecessary for a computer to interpret pixels and might actually decrease the level of accuracy.

As you can see in the image below the OMR (Optical Mark Recognition – checkboxes), ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition – Handwritten) and OCR (Optical Character Recognition – Machine characters) are much cleaner on the bitonal image on the left.  While the color image on the right is good for human viewing but not as good for capture and data extraction.

Dropout Color – Remove form background color

Another useful feature to use, in conjunction with, or just use in general on certain types of forms, is called “Dropout Color”.  This means that either the scanning hardware, sometimes the scanner driver or even capture application, can remove the forms background color.  In the image below the form color for the Healthcare form is a red color.  This red color is a good way to guide humans completing these forms to which area of the form to fill-in information.  However, this color is unneccasary and not needed for a computer to read this information via OCR, ICR or OMR.  Therefore, we can “dropout” the color to expose only the information on the form that we really care about.

 Forms Processing – Automatically extracting data from forms

Now, after using Multistream and/or Color Dropout, as you can see in the image below, you can now expose all the data you wish to capture in a neat manner which a computer can better understand and interpret.  The combination of using these advanced features can certainly help improve your data capture automation and accuracy levels.

Gaining value by using tools available to you

Enabling these features is quite simple so I encourage everyone to consider if these, or other features, might be available to you in your document capture solution that might help improve productivity.  These are just a few examples of using available functions to enhance process.  Within the entire capture process there are many techniques, functions or features that can be incorporated that would make capture much more efficient.

What do you think?  Are you getting the most out of your capture solution or do you think that there are possibly areas of improvement had you known about capabilities such as Multistream or Color Dropout?

ThanksKilling (2009) – Movie Review

coverSince today is the official start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia I’m going to be in the true Olympic spirit and give this movie, ThanksKilling, a Steelers Star Gold Medal (for stupidity in a film!)  In fact, this movie won all the medals in the Bad Movie competition with the Bronze, Silver and Gold.  ThanksKilling makes you feel dumber for simply watching 1 1/2 hours of this So-chi-T!  I have to give credit where credit is due and considering there was probably about a grand total of two hours pre-planning put into this movie and this resulted in 90 minutes of movie, again, they get credit for making the most out of nothing.  If there was to ever be a great team assembled of terrible movie writer/producers then the ‘talent’ that created ThanksKilling should win Gold for the next 4 Olympics with this disaster of a movie. Who says quality counts anyhow?

bronze_smallThe Bronze goes to the absolutely horrible acting that didn’t even begin to try and be serious.  Surprisingly enough it did not bother me as it typically would.  Something about this particular set of Olympic/Actor wannabees is curiously fun.  The characters were so ridiculous that you didn’t even have one iota of believe-ability with these Turkeys (Thanksgiving pun intended).

silver_smallNext, the Silver medal for ThanksKilling goes to the ridiculous plot of the movie.  A killer Turkey, are you serious?  Somehow every 505 years the killer Turkey comes back to terrorize the human race.  The over-dramatic scenes are simply awesome.  With just a bit more gravy (Turkey pun intended) the plot itself might have been worthy of the Gold medal.

gold_smallHowever, only one Gold medal can be awarded and this goes to the killer Turkey himself.  His foul-mouth language, rotten behavior and witty remarks were simply a s’mash’; potato (more Turkey/Thanksgiving pun intended).  Classic lines from Turkie (a.k.a. Killer Turkey who is the main character) spoken include “I quit him cold Turkey!”, “She got stuffed!” and “I’m making a Turkey sandwich”.

So, for this one exception I deem the award for this movie in Steelers Star Olympic Medals with 8 out of 10 stars (but don’t be a Turkie you yams!).

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An ABBsolutlYY great day with ABBYY USA!

This past Saturday, January 25th, was the ABBYY USA Winter Holiday party held at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.  Founded 130 years ago, Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery.  The Vineyard itself is absolutely gorgeous with other excellent attractions such as a Bar & Grill, full service restaurant, wine tasting tours and, my personal favorite, a stunning 18-hole Golf Course!

vineyard

The party itself was scheduled to start that evening at 6pm with a pre-dinner wine tasting  tour starting at 5pm so a couple ABBYY golf addicts and myself were quick to put two-and-two together and a morning golf tournament was born.  There were a grand total of fourteen players that joined the tournament and we played best-ball format.  My group consisted of two long hitters and myself.

golf course

Hole #10 was particularly noteworthy.  Our strategy was for me to tee-off on each hole because I could generally put the ball ‘in play’ although I wasn’t terribly long.  Then the next two guys could be more aggressive and try to put us in a better position.  It worked out well and especially on the 281-yard tenth hole.  I tee’d off and put the ball ‘in play’ about 180 yards, leaving only roughly 100 yards to the hole so this gave us three additional chances to improve.  The next guy in our group, Steve, had a very nice shot that traveled roughly 210 or so yards which only left us about 70 yards, so this was a slight improvement.  Therefore we had two shots to be most aggressive.  Our next guy, Ruben, took the third shot and drove it out of bounds but we had one more chance.  Ruben also took our fourth shot.

hole 10 ruben

We all agreed that he would ‘grip-it and rip-it’ and he did just that as we had little to lose.  His shot ended up only about 10 feet from the hole making his tee shot roughly 270 yards and directly on target http://itspharmacy.net/products/neurontin-gabapentin/!!!  It was nearly a hole-in-one on a par 4 hole.  It was an amazing shot by Ruben and one to remember for a lifetime!

ruben and steve 10 hole

After a great morning of golf with the group that went a bit longer than expected I had less than an hour to rush back to the hotel room I had rented, shower and return for wine tasting.  So Marc, who was also staying at the same hotel, and I hauled it to the hotel to check-in and get ready.  Since Marc wasn’t planning on attending the wine tasting he was nice enough to lend me his car which was much appreciated.  I made the wine tasting event just as it was starting at 5pm so a bit a relaxation or short nap was, obviously, not in the plans.  The wine tasting consisted of a guided tour where the history of the Vineyard and Wente family was explained which was interesting.  Then they took us into the “cave” (their terminology), which was actually a large storeroom/warehouse which stored all the barrels of fermenting wine where the process was explained in detail.  It was a great experience.

wine tasting the cave

Lastly, after the wine tasting tour, it was time of the main event and the Winter Party/Dinner.  There was all the usual chit-chat and conversations you might expect.  At about 7pm we all sat down for dinner, which was absolutely delicious.  Drawings for prizes were held through-out the evening and many people won wonderful items but, unfortunately, I was not among the winners.  Nevertheless I got around to say hello to nearly everyone which I sincerely enjoyed.  I also had the chance to meet many of my co-workers significant others and/or family members for the first time which was great as well.

dinner

Overall it was a busy, but wonderful day/afternoon and evening.  Thanks to ABBYY USA for sponsoring such a terrific event and especially thanks to all the organizers!