Sunday, November 21, 2010

Automated Data Entry

made this myselfImage via Wikipedia

Data entry is a frustrating job with little intellectual satisfaction, and practically a guarentee of carpal tunnel syndrome and other sore finger problems. It requires a clerk to be given reams of paper on a subject, and he or she must type them into a computer, quickly and accurately. Quickly because another shipping crate of paper is coming tomorrow, and because the computer can't really help with this problem until it has the data on hand. Regular saving is a must, as is passing this now computerized data over to IT to plug into the number crunching machine proper.
If one asked me to automate it, I would first start with OCR technology. OCR can, given a scanned page, translate the pixels into words. The reliability is pretty good if one can guarentee that the paper was scanned perfectly straight, and the original page's handwriting is reasonably legible. A mechanical arm would place the paper in the scanner, activate the scanner, and pass the result to an OCR program, and the data entry clerk's job is now reduced to verification. Any words missed or copied erroneously must be fixed, but it's easier than typing out everything by hand.
Of course, this is all expensive and difficult, which is why they pay you to do it.
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