Feeds

Googlebooks crusade captures CAPTCHA king

Fights spam. Pumps OCR

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Google has acquired reCAPTCHA, a free CAPTCHA service that also serves as a means of digitizing printed books and newspapers. Among other things, the Mountain View web giant is looking to juice its ever-controversial library-scanning Book Search project.

Google announced the acquisition this morning with a post to the Official Google Blog, and it couldn't help but trumpet the news with, yes, a CAPTCHA:

Google Acquires ReCaptcha

"The image above is a CAPTCHA — you can read it, but computers have a harder time interpreting the letters. We tried to make it hard for computers to recognize because we wanted to give humans the scoop first, but we're happy to announce to everybody now that Google has acquired reCAPTCHA, a company that provides CAPTCHAs to help protect more than 100,000 websites from spam and fraud," the post reads.

But its not just spam and fraud protection that interests the Mountain View Chocolate Factory. ReCAPTCHA is also a way for Google to improve the OCR (optical character recognition) technology it uses to digitize printed materials for both its Book Search and News Archive Search services.

In providing websites with CAPTCHAs - visual Turing tests that separate humans from machines - reCAPTCHA often includes text scanned from books and newspapers that can't be read with OCR. It pairs this unknown text with a recognized word or phrase. Website visitors are asked to read both words, and if they get the known word correct, ReCaptchas can assume they also read the unknown text correctly.

ReCAPTCHA - a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based outfit that spun off from research originated at Carnegie Mellon University - is currently helping the New York Times to digitize its archive.

Luis von Ahn, the reCAPTCHA founder who co-authored Google's blog post, is one of the Carnegie Mellon researchers who coined the term CAPTCHA, short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. ReCAPTCHAs first hit the web in 2007, and Ahn founded the company in 2008. The Carnege Mellon assistant computer science professor has not responded to our request for comment.

"Google is the best fit for reCAPTCHA," reads a canned statement from von Ahn tucked into a press release. "From the very start, people often assumed the project was connected to Google, so it only makes sense that reCAPTCHA Inc. ultimately would find a home within Google."

Von Ahn will remain on the Carnegie Mellon computer science faculty, but he will also work at Google's Pittsburgh engineering office, which is on the university's campus. In the press release, he indicated that reCAPTCHA aleady has close ties with Google. In 2006, the company licensed an Ahn-developed game for use in its Google Image Labeler. Terms of Google's acquisiton were not disclosed. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
'Aaaah FFS, 'amazeballs' has made it into the OXFORD DICTIONARY'
Plus: 'EE, how shocking, ANOTHER problem I face with your service'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.