OmniPage Update Adds Speech Features

The updated OCR software also boosts improved accuracy for the conversion of paper documents and images into electronic form.

ScanSoft Inc. on Tuesday released a new version of its OmniPage optical character recognition software that incorporates new speech technologies and improves the accuracy of converting scanned documents into electronic ones.

With OmniPage Pro 14 Office, ScanSoft has incorporated its automatic speech recognition technology into the product. It allows a user to speak commands in order to initiate OmniPage workflow processes and to conduct proofing of documents by voice, said Chris Strammiello, director of product marketing at ScanSoft, of Peabody, Mass.

The latest OmniPage release also makes use of ScanSofts text-to-speech technology so that users can output converted documents or scans into speech in the form of WAV files, Strammiello said.

ScanSoft in recent years has bolstered its speech technology offerings through a series of acquisitions. Most recently, in August, it completed the acquisition of leading speech vendor SpeechWorks International Inc. OmniPage itself came into the ScanSoft fold through the acquisition of Caere Corp. in 2000, Strammiello said. OmniPage has become ScanSofts main focus in the optical character recognition (OCR) arena, though it continues to offer an entry-level software product called TextBridge.

With the OmniPage Pro 14 Office version, ScanSoft has redone the OCR engine to improve the accuracy of conversions. Strammiello said the new engine improves accuracy by about 35 percent compared to the previous version of OmniPage.

The revamped software also can better recognize document formatting and more accurately convert formatting such as tables, columns and graphics into electronic form. In earlier versions, document formatting would become locked in place within an electronic document such as a Microsoft Word file. In the new release, the document formatting can be edited once converted into electronic form, Strammiello said.

"This is the first version that has a complete package for formatting," he said. "The final step that we have reached is natural, flowing text that looks like the original and edits like the original."

OmniPage Pro 14 Office supports about 30 file formats, from Word and WordPerfect to XML and PDFs, and 119 languages.

Available now, the client software runs on Windows 98 and higher and costs $599 for a fill version. Upgrades from earlier versions cost $199.

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