Mobile content capture continues to grow as more and more, smartphones are being used as primary devices. As Statista points out, automatic data capture solutions are regularly deployed for factory, warehouse, and logistics applications, and include both handheld and stationary bar code scanning and imaging devices, as well as bar code printers, and mobile computing solutions that have been ruggedized for factories and warehouses. When it comes to smartphone use, what are some tips for effective capture?
Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
One of the most significant ways to take advantage of mobile content capture is to use OCR. This technology extracts text that is part of an image to be converted into content that can be manipulated. For example, someone can scan a store receipt and then open it in a word-processing or other application for editing, copying or pasting of content. Because of this technology there are many apps in place to do just this.
Obviously, there are application possibilities beyond consumer. For example, an employee can scan receipts from a business trip. Now, accounting can extract content from a scanned receipt. The cost of an item can be automatically populated to an expense line. For example, the cost of a client dinner can go a specific category of expense. The name of the restaurant can also be populated to a data line.
Moving beyond receipts, this can be used for identification cards to process government paperwork. Naturally, it can also be used to process paper-based forms and digitize them. But, implementing OCR technology can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are OCR software development kits available to ease the process.
Use Barcodes Wisely
Barcodes are equally as powerful in capturing content while mobile. But, if not properly optimized it can slow down workflows. So, you must consider the physical location of a barcode, the printed or digital quality of a barcode, and physical defects a barcode might have.
The effectiveness of how a barcode is recognized can be impacted by the quality of the barcode image. Generally, a barcode reader processes the counting of pixels in an area to determine the width and location of a particular barcode. Thus, make sure the physical location of the barcode allows this to happen – that there are no obstructions. Also, a minimum of 200 dpi is suggested for acceptable barcode recognition.
Sometimes, despite proper resolution settings, good pixel density still doesn’t occur. There are a few reasons this might happen. Usually, poor-quality labels or a poor-quality printer are the culprits. There are tools available to try and remedy barcode decoding problems related to resolution.
As for physical defects, these can include empty areas that shouldn’t be empty or artifacts in areas that should be empty. This can include common problems, such as pen marks, grease, glue, dirt, etc. These things can fool a barcode scanner into thinking there is a bar there that really isn’t there or vice versa.
To learn more, read this article on how to improve barcode recognition accuracy.
Overall App Performance
So, whether you’re using a dedicated app or a web app, its performance is paramount. There is a lot of available research to show that poor performance can result in serious lost revenue. For example, mobiForge points out that 53 percent of mobile users abandon websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load.
Depending on if you’re using a dedicated app or web-based app, various factors can impact performance. There is the reliability of the cloud provider to consider. Also, people have varying devices they use, some older, some newer. These can have impacts. So, it’s important to measure performance regularly. It’s also important that each component be measured for performance. For example, the scan component of an app is obviously critical for any mobile content capture. It should perform well across various platforms, whether it’s Android, iOS, or Windows, or if it’s a web app, whether it’s Chrome, Edge, Firefox, etc.
Summing it Up
The market and application reach for mobile content capture continues to grow. The use of smartphones in place of other devices also continues to change how mobile content capture is implemented. However, core technologies and best practices remain constant.
OCR is critical in almost any content capture application. It is the key to unlocking data from paper-based documents and transforming it to meaningful and useful digital data. It can be difficult to implement. But, there are SDKs available from vendors to ease the path to implementation.
Barcodes continue to enjoy renewed growth in their use. Whole industries rely on them, such as healthcare and retail. However, they too can be difficult to implement, and SDKs do exist here too to ease a business’ path to implementation. Once barcode technology is in place you must beware of three factors that can make barcode decoding inefficient. These include the physical location of a barcode, the printed or digital quality of a barcode, and physical defects a barcode might have.
Finally, the performance of a dedicated app or web app can be impacted by several factors. So, be sure to consider the cloud services provider’s capabilities, and the likely devices or web browsers that will be used. Measure performance specific to these factors.
Properly implemented, your mobile content capture applications can positively transform a business operation.