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Google buys reCAPTCHA to improve book-scanning technology

You know those tests that you have to fill out when signing up for new web services? The ones that ask you to enter the text you see in a box to prove that you're human? Those are called CAPTCHAs. And a company called reCAPTCHA does something really interesting with them.

It finds hard-to-read text scanned from old newspapers and books. Because the ink and paper isn't in such good shape, spambots have a hard time reading the words, but people usually don't have too much trouble. And when you're entering a word in the box, you're actually helping reCAPTCHA's software to get better at reading these old texts.

Now if your'e starting to see why a company like Google, which has been scanning old and new books like mad over the last few years, might be interested in reCAPTCHA, you're not alone. Google announced today that it's acquiring the company. Web sites that use reCAPTCHA to protect themselves and their users from spam and fraud will continue to be able to use the service, because honestly, reCAPTCHA wouldn't be as useful to Google if the company were to shut off that part of the service.

via Business Insider

Tags: book-scanning, google, google-books, news, ocr, recaptcha