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Intelligent character recognition (ICR) is a computer-based interpretation of handwritten or printed characters so that they can be transcribed into a standardized format that can be recognized and understood by a computer.
ICR and optical character recognition (OCR) have essentially the same meaning. Before these technologies were developed, written text was transformed into digital form by a data entry specialist, who continually typed written text with a keyboard.
OCR/ICR technologies have since been substituted for older manual methods.
The most common input device for characters in written, nondigital form is a scanner. These characters are processed by a digital signal processing-based (DSP-based) program, which compares characters within a stored database. This process is typically followed by a confirmation process based on a built-in dictionary that suggests matches closest to the entered characters.
Today, scanning is the only manual part of the process, and it is much faster than entering characters individually. ICR-based programs have the capacity to achieve high-recognition accuracy exceeding 98 percent. This is the same realized percentage of a data entry specialist, but it is accomplished within a shorter period of time.