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Optical Input Devices

Optical Input Devices

Optical input devices allow computers to use light as a source of input. Scanner is an example of optical input device. Other common optical input devices are magnetic ink character reader used for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR), optical mark reader used for Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), optical character reader for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Barcode Reader.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is a technique for the scanning of a printed page, translating it, and then using the OCR software to recognize the image as ASCII text that is editable. OCR uses optical character reader for recognition. The optical character reader stores the scanned image as bitmap image which is a grid of dots. Thus, you cannot edit the text that has been scanned. To edit the scanned text, you need OCR software. The OCR software translates the array of dots into text that the computer can interpret as words and letters. To recognize the words and letters of text, the OCR software compares the pattern on the scanned image with the patterns stored inside the computer. The text files generated via OCR can be stored in different formats.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)

MICR is used in banks to process large volumes of cheques. It is used for recognizing the magnetic encoding numbers printed at the bottom of a cheque. The numbers on the cheque are human readable, and are printed using an ink which contains iron particles. These numbers are magnetized. MICR uses magnetic ink character reader for character recognition. When a cheque is passed through Magnetic Ink Character Reader, the magnetic field causes the read head to recognize the characters or numbers of cheque. The readers are generally used in banks to process the cheques. The numbers in the bottom of the cheque include the bank number, branch number and cheque number. The reading speed of MICR is faster than OCR.

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)

OMR is used to detect marks on a paper. The marks are recognized by their darkness. OMR uses an optical mark reader to read the marks. The OMR reader scans the forms, detects the mark that is positioned correctly on the paper and is darker than the surrounding paper, and passes this information to the computer for processing by application software. For this, it uses a beam of light that is reflected on the paper with marks, to capture presence and absence of marks. The optical mark reader detects the presence of mark by measuring the reflected light. The pattern of marks is interpreted and stored in the computer.
OMR is widely used to read answers of objective type tests, where the student marks an answer by darkening a particular circle using a pencil. OMR is also used to read forms, questionnaires, order forms, etc.

Barcode Reader

Barcodes are adjacent vertical lines of different width that are machine readable. Goods available at supermarkets, books, etc. use barcode for identification. Barcodes are read using reflective light by barcode readers. This information is input to the computer which interprets the code using the spacing and thickness of bars. Hand-held barcode readers are generally used in departmental stores to read the labels, and in libraries to read labels on books.
Barcode readers are fast and accurate. They enable faster service to the customer and are also used to determine the items being sold, number of each item sold or to retrieve the price of item.