Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

OCR – Optical Character Recognition and Rhodia

Stephanie

There has been a lot of talk about recent the partnership between Evernote and Moleskine. Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. In some situations, text that appears in captured images can be recognized using *OCR and annotated.

Moleskine has created a special dotted paper pattern for their new Evernote Smart Notebook which is reportedly optimized for the Page Camera feature in the new iOS version of Evernote. My assumption is that this feature will allow you to better search your handwritten notes. And while I am intrigued by the concept that this partnership has brought to light, I was super curious to see if I could create a work around using Evernote, Exaclair products, and various scanning apps.

I first scanned a blank Rhodia Webbie page (written in red ink) with the apps JotNotPro and Scanner Pro. I then used the Evernote Page camera with an Exacompta graph index card. (Note that my lighting conditions were not universal throughout – bad reviewer.. bad!) 

This is a blank Webbie (with red ink) page shot with JotNot Scanner Pro on my iPad (no flash) with minimal editing within the app. There are various available settings to allow for a clearer image. This app cost me .99.

This image was taken with the Scanner Pro App on my iPad (no flash) of the same Webbie page. It has an easier editing interface with simple options for “color photo,” “document,” (used here) and grayscale. The cost of this app is $6.99. 

This image from an Exacompta index card was taken with the Evernote Page Camera on my iPad. (No flash) With the Evernote Smart Notebook, they recommend using the camera flash for the best possible image but there is no flash on an iPad.  Best I can tell, there are no options to edit the image within the app, including skew. “For the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine, it finds the dot pattern and even corrects the skew of the photo.”  

Note that you can adjust the skew in either JotNot or Scanner pro. (Scanner Pro seems a better job at automatically recognizing the edges of the paper.) 

In comparison, this is the same Exacompta Index card taken with Scanner Pro and using the “Document” option.

After importing each of these varying versions to Evernote, I attempted to search using words from within the notes. I should point out that this was the first time I’ve ever tried a handwriting search – knowing full well that my own handwriting may leave a little something to be desired. (It also changes depending on my mood.) It seemed to be accurate only about 50% of the time and since I don’t have the Moleskine to test, I can’t yet say that it would be any more effective than what I found here.

I rarely use Evernote and do not have a premium subscription – which would be necessary if you wanted to catalog each and every one of your notebook pages. I do like the idea of scanning & saving certain pages, which can likely be accomplished with the camera on your device without having to utilize any additional apps. The two scanner apps I tested each have the ability to export to jpg or PDF files and it should be noted that PDF files are fairly universal in their ability to be uploaded to various document storage sites. I ended up liking the Scanner Pro app because it produced sharp images that I can read – even if Evernote can’t.

The Evernote Smart Notebooks will be available in two sizes, pocket ($24.95) and large ($29.95),

In conclusion, would the ability to search your handwritten notes be important to you? What about paper quality?

*From Wikipedia: “Optical character recognition, usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text.”

 (Note: I like that Scanner Pro allows you to create folders within the app to organize your documents which JotNot does not. Although each can also export to your camera roll where you can also create folders of your various documents. I assume that deleting any of these apps from your device will make all of your scanned images that you didn’t export to your camera roll go bye-bye. If important, you should probably back up somewhere else like Evernote, iCloud, Dropbox or an external drive.) 

4 thoughts on “OCR – Optical Character Recognition and Rhodia

  1. You need to try the Evernote page scanner with the dot paper to see if will autocorrect skewing. it’s my understanding that that was the point of moleskine adding the dots in the first place.

  2. You need to try the Evernote page scanner with the dot paper to see if will autocorrect skewing. it’s my understanding that that was the point of moleskine adding the dots in the first place.

  3. That’s a really great question. As I’m preparing lectures for the new year, I’ve been using Evernote a lot to clip web references as well as making notes on regular paper. It never occurred to me till now to put handwritten notes on Evernote.

    That said, I can’t see myself ever using a dedicated product just for this. I write on everything – from my Rhodia pads to moleskine notebook to cheap college looseleaf. Pretty much every other factor – paper quality, utility, cost – would trump OCR recognition for me.

    I’ll have to try this out on my regular paper – and maybe even in my Dot Rhodia pad – just to see.

  4. That’s a really great question. As I’m preparing lectures for the new year, I’ve been using Evernote a lot to clip web references as well as making notes on regular paper. It never occurred to me till now to put handwritten notes on Evernote.

    That said, I can’t see myself ever using a dedicated product just for this. I write on everything – from my Rhodia pads to moleskine notebook to cheap college looseleaf. Pretty much every other factor – paper quality, utility, cost – would trump OCR recognition for me.

    I’ll have to try this out on my regular paper – and maybe even in my Dot Rhodia pad – just to see.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RHODIA PADS

A modern notebook since 1934

Buy Rhodia