Optical character recognition (OCR) technology has really come a long way since Austrian engineer Gustav Tausche developed the first OCR device in the late 1920s. And thank goodness for that, because OCR needs to keep up with the demands of modern life like grocery shopping, online learning, fast and accurate consumption of information, and communication. Technology companies continue to innovate OCR products to keep visually impaired persons fully engaged in our increasingly complicated world. Here are some OCR readers we recommend.
What to Look for in OCR Readers
When shopping for OCR devices, consider:
- Needs: There are OCR devices to assist with just about every activity, from reading to facial recognition and memorizing information for school. What do you need from an OCR device? Do you want to find a solution for a specific activity like book reading? Or do you want a device that is multifunctional?
- Budget: Prices vary as widely as the number and type of OCR technology products on the market. There are enough brands and versions on any one OCR tool to make more financially conservative purchases. Sometimes a more basic product perfectly suits simple needs.
- Compatibility: Most OCR devices can be used across digital platforms, but not everything syncs up perfectly. Consider your goal. Do you have Mac or Windows and want OCR software compatible with your operating system?
Best Pen Scanner: Scanmarker Air Pen Scanner
While high-tech and packed with features, this OCR digital highlighter simplifies reading for individuals with visual impairment. Users slide the pen across a line of printed text, then view the clear text on their computer screen. The pen can also translate over 40 languages and turn text to speech in real-time, making it a valuable device for school or professional environments.
Take it with you wherever you go, and scan wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Scanmarker Air Pen Scanner | OCR Digital Highlighter and Reading Pen | Wireless | Text to Speech | Multilingual | Language Translation | Compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, Android | Black
Wield this pen scanner to read better and faster.
Best Book Scanner: CZUR Professional Book and Document Scanner
The CZUR document scanner assists visually impaired individuals with book and document reading. The patented laser scanning technology flattens images of curved book pages, so it won’t miss a thing. The scanner is compatible with Windows or Mac. And customers will be excited to know that the device is also Zoom compatible! The device makes online learning and remote working possible.
CZUR Professional Document Scanner ET18-P, Fast Recognition Scanner, 18MP High Definition, A3 Size Capture, 186 Languages OCR, Patented “Laser-Based Image Flattening” Technology
This book scanner is powered by laser scanning technology.
Best Mac Software: ABBYY FineReader Pro for Mac
OCR commonly involves devices like scanners or impressively small instruments users can attach to their glasses. But all these products run on software. The ABBYY FineReader Pro for Mac OSX is software you download for computer use. The FineReader takes the tedium out of editing, manually reformatting converted documents, and more.
ABBYY FineReader Pro for Mac [Download]
This OCR software for Mac OSX makes editing and commenting on documents possible.
Best Wearable: OrCam MyEye Pro – Advanced Wearable Assistive Device
This high-tech microdevice attaches to the bow of a pair of glasses. The tiny camera reads text, recognizes faces, identifies products, and more, conveying the information via audio. It was one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Inventions in 2019.
OrCam MyEye Pro - The Most Advanced Wearable Assistive Device for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Featuring Smart Reading, Face Recognition, Color & Product Identification, Orientation (beta) & More
A small device that provides several neat features such as facial recognition.
Best PC Software: ABBYY FineReader for PC
An OCR software application for PC enables users to access and use all the features of PDFs. The software makes it possible to scan for salient information that would otherwise be hidden in image-based documents. The ABBYY FineReader empowers consumers to edit PDFs, fill out forms, and create PDFs for collaboration.
ABBYY FineReader 14 Standard Upgrade for PC [Download]
This OCR reader for personal computers is exactly what you need if you want to collaborate on documents.