Intelligent character recognition is also known as handwriting recognition -- the two terms are often interchangeable. A handwriting recognition system allows a computer to learn different styles of human handwriting. Handwriting that appears on photographs, touch-screens, plain paper, and many other items can be interpreted by a computer thanks to intelligent character recognition systems.
Offline handwriting recognition refers to any article containing handwriting that is scanned onto a computer. Online intelligent character recognition refers to movements created by a specialized pen tip that is linked to a computer directly. A Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is a prime example of on-line recognition -- users write directly on the screen of a PDA device, and this handwriting is immediately interpreted by the device. Most handwriting programs of this kind use optical character recognition, though this is not always the case.
When a computer is able to translate any image or character into machine-text, this is known as optical character recognition. This basic translation does not include any structuring or formatting of the actual text. However, some intelligent character recognition programs can format text, choose probably words, and even identify characters as they pertain to text.
Many manufacturers began using intelligent character recognition systems during the 1980s. The first devices that used handwriting recognition were in the form of portable laptops that acted as writing tablets. Users could draw or write directly onto these tablets, while the tablets processed the images on-screen. During the 1990s, the concept of online handwriting recognition really took off with many different manufacturers creating PDAs.
Researchers are still studying handwriting recognition in the hopes that this technology can produce even better results. The International Conference on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition and the Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition are the two biggest conferences related to intelligent character recognition.
During these conferences, teams of researchers discuss on-line recognition, signature verification, offline recognition, and many other aspects of handwriting recognition. Many believe that this technology has not yet begun to fully surface. Thus, those that are immersed in the research of handwriting recognition are seeking to find other ways to use this technology.
From everyday PDAs to products that are bound to impress in the near future, handwriting recognition is a huge technological advancement. Even though humans have been drawing characters for centuries, computers were not able to recognize these characters until very recently. Translating human handwriting to computer language is no easy feat, though it is a reality.