Google has acquired leading capthca service provider ReCaptcha as part of its push to digitize the worlds books.
Captcha’s, for those not familiar with them (most have seen one, but not everyone knows what they are called) are the garbled text boxes that many sites require users to copy before submitting text to a site. Captcha’s prevent mass spam attacks as they are difficult to read by computer programs.
ReCaptcha started out as a research project at Carnegie Mellon, but unlike most of its rivals has always offered a distinct difference: instead of delivering garbled, sometimes impossible text to read, it offers text from books…which sometimes is hard to read, but at the same time delivers an outcome: the typed response from the image is used in digitizing the books. As Google explains:
ReCAPTCHA’s unique technology improves the process that converts scanned images into plain text, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology also powers large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search.
The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.