ABBYY FineReader 8.0 redefines OCR accuracy and performance

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ABBYY Software House today announced the commercial release of the next generation of its FineReader desktop optical character recognition (OCR) and document conversion software application, FineReader 8.0.

ABBYY FineReader is a powerful, yet easy-to-use application for professional quality conversion of document images and PDF files to editable and searchable electronic files. The product delivers outstanding accuracy when converting a variety of document types including tables and spreadsheets, magazine articles, contracts, and faxes. Enhancements in version 8.0 give FineReader new intelligence, making it more accurate, flexible, and adaptable for a wider variety of users than ever before.

ABBYY FineReader 8.0 redefines OCR accuracy and performance by delivering:
* a significant increase in overall recognition accuracy - with up to 30 percent accuracy improvement for "difficult-to-read" images such as faxes and documents scanned at low resolution;
* more intelligent PDF conversion - with smarter, faster processing and output to searchable, secure, and tagged PDF files;
* higher productivity and greater applicability - with new automation tools, fast processing options and ability to use FineReader for a wider range of tasks, including digital camera support and "instant" OCR with a new Screenshot Reader application.

ABBYY FineReader 8.0 directly addresses the needs of key user groups demanding more flexibility and adaptivity from their OCR program. FineReader Desktop Products are available in three versions: FineReader Professional Edition - professional OCR for individual users; FineReader Corporate Edition - workgroup OCR for department or small to mid-sized businesses; and FineReader Site License Edition - OCR for automated roll out to large corporations.

Alexander Bobrovskiy, Chief Product Manager for the ABBYY FineReader Product Line explained that as OCR technologies become more sophisticated, the measurement of product performance moves beyond simple word accuracy improvements. "FineReader is evolving and becoming more intelligent and versatile because today's knowledge workers and professionals want to be more productive. Business documents are rather complex with a variety of inherent information which needs to be pulled from it. Hyperlinks, web references and e-mail addresses contain not just special formatting, but key data. The challenge is to extract these data from images."

"When it comes to productivity", said Alexander Bobrovskiy, "we also allow users to work with OCR for more tasks than ever before - capturing images while on the go with a camera, saving PDFs with internal links for archive, recognising text from any image directly from the screen, working with secure documents in government applications, and automating routine OCR processes."

Recognition enhancements
ABBYY FineReader's intelligent approach selectively deploys the best combination of recognition algorithms and pre-processing adjustments based on the quality and key attributes of each document. The result is greater overall accuracy. New document conversion benefits from FineReader 8.0 recognition enhancements include:

* Adaptive recognition for camera images. The new version of FineReader is equipped to differentiate between document images captured from digital cameras or scanners. It then applies different processing algorithms, depending on the source input device, to address problems typically associated with digital camera images such as poor lighting, out-of-focus text, distorted text lines, and missing resolution information. New image pre-processing functions for straightening text lines further help to correct camera lens distortions. As a result, FineReader users now have the ability to process documents that have typically been difficult to capture, such as documents found while travelling out of the office (and without a scanner), text from signs or walls, or pages from thick, bound documents such as books.

* Hyperlink support. Showing greater knowledge of how text and text formatting works, FineReader is now able to "read" and "reproduce" hyperlinks.

* Multilingual OCR. FineReader supports 179 languages, more than any other document conversion application.

* Greater accuracy with Microsoft Word custom dictionary support.
With integrated Microsoft Word custom dictionary, ABBYY FineReader 8.0 recognises correctly even user specific words.

Smarter, faster PDF conversion
FineReader 8.0 offers three different PDF conversion functions in one application: users can open a PDF file and convert it into editable formats (such as Word or Excel); open a PDF file, modify text, then save back to PDF; or create searchable PDFs from paper documents. FineReader 8.0 increases PDF conversion speed by up to two times over the previous version and features the following technological enhancements:

* Intelligent PDF conversion process. FineReader delivers superior accuracy in PDF file conversion with its dual-option approach. When processing PDF files, FineReader determines whether or not text is embedded, examines the integrity of the text layer and makes a decision as to whether to extract the text, or apply OCR. It exams each block individually, and selects the most appropriate method to apply to each block. This process ensures more accurate and faster PDF conversion even when processing problematic PDF files such as PDFs with incorrectly encoded blocks of "text" or PDFs presented as an image-only file with no text layer (i.e. images from MFPs). If necessary, advanced users can select 'Recognise PDF as Image' mode to process all PDF documents as images.

* PDF security setting and encryption support. FineReader 8.0 supports the following PDF security settings, making it well-suited for professionals working in government ministries and other organisations demanding high security:

* Supports open and permission passwords,

* Allows users to restrict printing, editing, or extracting of file content, and

* Supports RC4-based 40-bit, 128-bit, and AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)-based 128-bit encryption.

* Links and document properties. When converting PDF files, FineReader will recreate internal links and hyperlinks within the PDF file. It also captures PDF document properties defined by the author such as: subject, author, title, and keywords and transfer that information to a similar location in the output documents in DOC, RTF, XLS, HTML, PDF, and LIT formats.

* PDF output in tagged PDF format. FineReader now supports output to tagged PDF formats that can be "reflowed" to fit different page or screen widths. This makes it easy to send recognised text to handheld devices such as PDAs or screen readers typically used by visually impaired users.

New productivity features:
* Task automation. A new Automation Manager allows users to perform the multiple steps of document or PDF conversion with simple "one-click" execution. The easy-to-follow FineReader drop-down menus are already equipped with pre-defined tasks. Users simply select one of the options and the program performs all of the steps in the process automatically. Alternatively, users can also create their own process with the help of an Automation Wizard. The Automation Manager is ideal for regularly repeated conversion tasks. With one click, the Automation Manager could perform recognition and save the results to two different formats (such as Word and PDF) at the same time saving the effort required to manually export a file twice. Ready-to-use automated tasks can also be distributed among many company employees.

* ABBYY Screenshot Reader (bonus application). FineReader 8.0 also offers a new application called ABBYY Screenshot Reader. Screenshot Reader is an easy-to-use utility that captures screen images and allows users to perform "instant" OCR from the screen. It is ideal for pulling text, tables, or images from Web browser pages, flash presentations, Windows Explorer file menus, or error messages. Screenshot Reader is also an ideal "quick OCR" tool for users who want to pull small quotes or a few sentences of text from a PDF or image file they are currently viewing. Users can choose from capturing an image only, text, or table. The data can be immediately transferred to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel or a clipboard or saved to a file.

* Fast Mode recognition. FineReader 8.0 now offers a "fast mode recognition" option which increases speed up to 2.5 times when full analysis and processing is not necessary. Ideal when processing large batches of documents in which extracted text is used only for indexing (searchable archives), or large groups of high quality documents.

* New output/saving options. Additional new saving options include the .LIT format for eBooks and increased user-selected options when saving to files. For example, users can now automatically set all pages of a multipage document to a specified size. Additionally, document properties or "meta data" can be added to output file when saving to DOC, XML, HTML, PDF and LIT formats, providing useful information for automation of indexing, search, and data mining.

New packages for corporate and volume license customers
ABBYY FineReader 8.0 will be available for corporate customers in two versions supporting all of the functionality available in FineReader 8.0 Professional Edition, plus additional support for multiple users over a network:

* FineReader 8.0 Corporate Edition - For small-to-mid-sized businesses working on a local area network (LAN), ABBYY FineReader 8.0 Corporate Edition is an ideal groupware solution for OCR and PDF conversion. Corporate Edition users benefit from the ability to support multiple users who can work together while processing their documents. Benefits of Corporate Edition include:
- Network installation
- Support for network scanning devices
- Distributed document processing
- Shared dictionary work
- Concurrent license management, in which the license limitation is based on the amount of simultaneous users at one time.

FineReader 8.0 Corporate Edition offers a new enhanced Hot Folder & Scheduling application with functions for automatic processing of images and automatic batch conversion. Ideal for companies working with networked scanners, digital copiers or MFPs, or fax servers, the Hot Folder & Scheduling feature allows users to create designated folders located on a local drive, network drive, or FTP server to be monitored by FineReader. Each time a document or multiple documents are added to these folders, it is immediately processed in the background by FineReader according to pre-defined rules specified by the users. With a new Wizard, users or administrators can simply follow the dialogs to set up tasks by first selecting location of the folder, time settings (single processing or constantly watching), recognition language and type (fast mode or regular), output/saving formats and location. This can be used to save valuable work time, for example by scheduling the processing of a large batch at the end of the work day.

* FineReader 8.0 Site License Edition - FineReader 8.0 Site License Edition is a new addition to the FineReader product portfolio specifically designed to support the needs of large corporations and companies with distributed networks. The product offers added support for a high volume, automated roll-out among multiple workstations across a large enterprise and supports cooperation in a network. The corporate customer can purchase additional services such as Extended Corporate Support and Upgrade assurance to optimise his software administration processes and protect his software investment.

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