EXCLUSIVE: Reading between the lines

Headquartered in Moscow, Russia, ABBYY is known across the world for its optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which is used in many document management systems.

Its systems inspect and extract text from documents and then store it for further use, but in recent years the company has seen a growing demand in the machine vision and quality assurance sector.

Eva Weber

Eva Weber

Eva Weber is the senior product marketing manager at ABBYY and she tells Converter that since being formed 25 years ago, the company has been providing technology (Software Development Kits) and applications used in different software systems. The technology can recognise documents, screenshots and even barcodes that contain text in over 200 languages, which benefits many multinational organisations; it is this that sets the business apart from its competitors, she says.

Machine vision and quality assurance has immense value in the production industry and it is important to help improve efficiency. Some systems can complete up to several thousand inspections every minute.

ABBYY works directly with system manufacturers to form partnerships and incorporate its OCR technology to read and extract printed information so it can be dealt with. With a handful of text recognition systems providers in the market today, ABBYY is using its position as one of the leaders to move further into the machine vision sector and build on its reputation.

“If you look into OCR technology, there are always two factors that are important,” Weber explains. “One is quality – how much of the display text can you really recognise. This depends on the manufacturer. Recognising photographs from a camera image is a bit more difficult than text scanning; there are different factors that make it difficult, like movement or light.

“The other factor for our customers is speed – how quickly the algorithms can detect and interpret text. If you want a high quality system you will need longer for it to work. After 25 years we have found a good compromise and we provide our technology with many options of speeds and therefore what quality reading manufacturers want.”

Machine Vision ABBYYABBYY allows its customers to undergo a testing period of any of its software packages using special downloadable versions. The company’s pre- and post-sales support also includes dedicated consultancy and programming engineers who accompany the customer during the implementation of new technology and an after-sales care team provide maintenance and software upgrades.

“Automated quality control is an increasingly important topic for the printing and packaging sector,” Weber continues. “Manually checking the print quality and text content of production date information, goods codes and other information is not very efficient. With OCR, the robot can not only see areas of goods or packaging but can actually read the printed text and act accordingly. Introducing systems that use high accuracy data extraction technologies offers the advantages of high-speed, error- free automatic control, and ABBYY provides these functions to customers worldwide.

“We believe that the future bears tremendous opportunities in this sector. With the increasing trend of ‘The Internet of Things’ and high connectivity of devices and systems beyond simple machine-to- machine communication, the time is ready for so-called ‘smart factories’ where robotic systems can copy human behaviour. They can use cameras to compare images with database information and take appropriate actions, and such technology can increase companies’ value in the production chain.”