RE: OCR/barcode reliability

From: Popkin, Laird (WMG Corp) <"Popkin,>
Date: Thu Jun 03 2004 - 12:06:03 CDT

In general, barcodes are more accurate than OCR. The error rates I see
quoted are:

Barcodes: 1 error per 1m barcode reads.
OCR: 2% error rate (20,000 errors per 1m character reads).

To clarify, banks print MICR text, but read it optically rather than
magnetically. MICR fonts are probably embedded in too many devices to
replace with generic font recognition, and the MICR font is designed to be
easily recognizable, which is true optically as well as magnetically, so
there's not much reason to stop using MICR fonts, even if the "M" isn't

Even though OCR is typically much less accurate than barcodes, in our case
if we're clever we can perform an "OCR" that takes advantage of our
knowledge of what we're looking for. So we don't need to recognize free
text, we only have to determine which candidate's name is printed, which
should make it much more accurate. But I don't know that there's any study
that we can point to that proves that OCR in a limited domain is 20,000x
more accurate than general OCR. Anyone?

- LP

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of David
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 11:31 PM
Subject: Re: [voting-project] OCR/barcode reliability

>> I find this claim unlikely if we are talking about OCR fonts like
>> OCR-A. At the least it is not supportable without some empirical
>> evidence. Strong counter-evidence is provided by the banking
>> industry, who process literally billions of checks every day, with
>> extremely low error rates, using OCR fonts.
> Banks use MICR not straight OCR. That's Magnetic Ink. And the MICR
> encoding is more redundant that straight OCR is.


I thought the MICR was something from the 1980s, and banks had
generally moved to pure optical now.

For example, from

> These special characters are called MICR (Magnetic Ink Character
> Recognition) characters because they were originally designed to be
> printed in a special magnetic ink and read using magnetic sensors in
> the banks' machinery. However, almost all banks (more than 90%) now
> use optical sensors (OCR -Optical Character Recognition) to read your
> checks. This means that the banks' equipment can read the MICR
> characters as long as they are printed clearly and accurately, with
> magnetic or standard ink or toner.

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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:04 2004

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