Feeds

Googlebooks crusade captures CAPTCHA king

Fights spam. Pumps OCR

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.