TopOCR's Accessible User Interface

With just a single keyboard command, TopOCR can be transformed into a PC-based Reading Machine that can assist someone who has difficulty reading print. It has a very easy to learn 100% Accessible User Interface and a very powerful state-of-the-art OCR (Optical Character Reading) system that transforms text images into speech that can be played on a headset or saved on an MP3 player. TopOCR can read and speak in eleven different languages (English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish). You can easily switch between TopOCR's Graphical User Interface and the Accessible User Interface by simply typing Control-A on your keyboard.

TopOCR automatically rotates scanned document images to the correct orientation, so even if your documents are sideways or upside down, TopOCR will still be able to read and display them in the proper orientation. It can also perform Clipped Text Detection as well as Column Straightening to correct document skew and reduce page curvature from books. TopOCR's Accessible User Interface is completely "self voicing" so it doesn't require an external screen reader. All OCR processing is performed locally on your PC making the process faster and more convenient.

TopOCR's Accessible User Interface works by transforming a standard PC keyboard or a numeric keypad into a touch panel interface that controls a virtual Reading Machine. All commands can be accessed through a simple keyboard/keypad interface with conveniently located keys. TopOCR works with inexpensive document cameras that can be purchased online from Amazon.com for about $100, so it doesn't require expensive proprietary hardware that can be difficult for you to locate, evaluate and purchase. Using TopOCR with low cost "off-the-shelf" hardware to make your own Reading Machine can save you from $700 to $1800 or more compared to purchasing a PC based Reading Machine from an Adaptive Technology dealer. In addition, TopOCR's Graphical User Interface lets you share your document camera with the rest of your family and even includes a handy function for converting PDF files into MP3 audio files.

What about OCR accuracy? In a recent test, TopOCR was compared to Kurzweil 1000 (the leading PC Accessible OCR application), and the result was that TopOCR had 80% less OCR errors thanks to its advanced image processing and OCR technology! TopOCR also uses a UVC video interface, while the Kurzweil 1000 application uses a TWAIN scanner interface. This means that TopOCR is compatible with any document camera, while the Kurzweil 1000 application is compatible with only a few that have a UVC to TWAIN "bridge"! Other differences between TopOCR and the Kurzweil 1000 application are price and complexity. The Kurzweil 1000 application is over two hundred times more expensive than TopOCR and also has a much more complicated keyboard command system when compared with TopOCR's (explained in more detail below). When properly configured, a low cost Windows PC can become a dedicated Reading Machine and can go straight from turning on the power switch to running TopOCR without any further user intervention.

The bottom line? No other Reading Machine application is as easy to use or as accurate as TopOCR, and no other Reading Machine application is as inexpensive as TopOCR!

TopOCR's DeskTop/NoteBook Keyboard Accessibility Keys and their Functions


        




TopOCR's 16 Accessibility Keys are organized as 9 command keys, 5 option keys and 2 setup keys. Option and setup key changes are saved, and from then on TopOCR will operate with the changed values. Here is a brief functional description of all of the Keyboard Accessibility Keys:

Esc - Scan an image, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output

F1 - Pause/Resume reading
F2 - Replay the OCR Text output from the beginning
F3 - Save the OCR text output and copy it to an MP3 player
F4 - Scan an image without OCR - perfect for later On Screen viewing

F5 - Exit TopOCR
F6 - Exit TopOCR and Shutdown your PC
F7 - Set Capture Delay for Document Camera - Default is 10 seconds
F8 - Contrast Maximize On or Off - Default is Off

F9 - Turn On or Off Clipped Text Detection and Column Straightening to correct page skew/curl - default is Off
F10 - Turn On or Off announcing OCR Spelling Check Error Results - default is Off
F11 - Select Language - Default is English
F12 - Audio Help

- - Contrast Equalize On or Off - Default is Off
Enter - Select Document Camera - (only needed if you have more than one webcam/document camera plugged-in)
+ - Scan an image using 2X Super Resolution, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output


Control-A - switch between the standard Windows GUI mode and the Accessible User Interface mode - default is the GUI mode

Note: Super Resolution is very compute and memory intensive, and is best run on a high-end CPU with at least 2 GB of memory.
Note: The Spelling Check Error Results include OCR recognition errors together with words that are not in the dictionary.

TopOCR's Numeric Keypad Accessibility Keys and their Functions


TopOCR's numeric control keys have the same functionality as the standard Desktop/Notebook keyboard keys. Please make sure the NumLock key is activated.






0 - Scan an image, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output
1 - Pause/Resume reading
2 - Replay the OCR Text output from the beginning
3 - Save the OCR text output and copy it to an MP3 Player
4 - Scan an image without OCR - perfect for later On Screen magnification
5 - Exit TopOCR
6 - Exit TopOCR and Shutdown your PC
7 - Set Capture Delay for Document Camera - Default is 10 seconds
8 - Contrast Maximize On or Off - Default is Off
9 - Turn On or Off Clipped Text Detection and Column Straightening to correct page skew/curl - default is Off
. - Turn On or Off announcing OCR Spelling Check Error Results - default is Off
* - Select Language - Default is English
/ - Audio Help
- - Contrast Equalize On or Off - Default is Off
Enter - Select Document Camera - (only needed if you have more than one webcam/document camera plugged-in)
+ - Scan an image using 2X Super Resolution, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output

Note: Super Resolution is very compute and memory intensive, and is best run on a high-end multi-core CPU with at least 2 GB of memory.
Note: The Spelling Check Error Results include OCR recognition errors together with words that are not in the dictionary.

TopOCR's Image Scroll Keys

TopOCR also has four keys to allow you to scroll a displayed image. To access these keys turn off the NumLock on the keypad and turn NumLock back on when you need to access the standard command and option keys.



Down Arrow - Scroll the currently displayed image downward
Up Arrow - Scroll the currently displayed image upward
Left Arrow - Scroll the currently displayed image to the left
Right Arrow - Scroll the currently displayed image to the right

Setup for the Accessibility Interface


Once you've installed TopOCR on your PC then you're ready to setup and configure TopOCR for use with your document camera. This setup only needs to be done once and takes less than 30 seconds to complete. Please note that if you're using Windows 7 then you'll also need to download and install the Text To Speech Engine and required Voice. If you're using Windows 8.X or Windows 10, you don't need to install these files because they are included in these versions of Windows.

1. Plug your document camera into a USB 2.0 port on your PC (make sure it is not a slower USB 1.1 port).
2. Launch the TopOCR application.
3. Switch TopOCR From GUI Mode into Accessible Mode by typing Control-A.
4. TopOCR's default language is English, if you want to use the Accessibile User Interface with another language, then use the BackSpace key to select another language.
5. If you have a PC with more than one webcam/document camera, use the Enter key to select the correct document camera.

TopOCR's setup and configuration, like its operation is 100% Accessible, there are no on screen dialogs, menus, or buttons that would require the use of an external screen reader. All functions are handled through the keyboard or keypad. Once you switch TopOCR into Accessible Mode, it will always start in this mode until you type Control-A to switch it back to the GUI Mode.

TopOCR's 9 Command Keys


The basic operation of TopOCR's Accessible User Interface isn't very complicated and is implemented with the following 10 keys:

Esc - Scan an image, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output
F1 - Pause/Resume reading
F2 - Replay the OCR Text output from the beginning
F3 - Save the OCR text output and copy it to an MP3 Player
F4 - Scan an image without OCR
F5 - Exit TopOCR
F6 - Exit TopOCR and Shutdown your PC
F12 - Audio Help
+ - Scan an image using 2X Super Resolution, OCR the image, and read the OCR Output

All of the Accessibility Keys provide audio feedback when pressed as well as any necessary feedback regarding their operation in the selected language. You will also receive audio feedback in the form of a ticking clock during the two steps of the image capture and recognition process that are the most time consuming. The first step is the camera image capture step, and the second is the OCR processing step.

TopOCR's 5 Option Keys


TopOCR has 5 keys that allow you to control the use of optional functions that can improve OCR results. You can experiment with turning then on or off and see which ones lead to better accuracy for your particular documents.

F8 - Contrast Maximize On or Off - Default is Off
F9 - Turn On or Off Clipped Text Detection and Column Straightening to correct page skew/curl - default is Off
F10 - Turn On or Off announcing OCR Spelling Check Error Results - default is Off
F7 - Set Capture Delay for Document Camera - Default is 10 seconds
- - Turn On or Off Contrast Equalize - Default is Off

If you're scanning smooth, glossy pages that are highly reflective, try turning on the Contrast Equalize function. If you have less than ideal lighting, try turning on the Contrast Maximize function. If you're scanning books or magazines or other documents that contain long columns of text, then try turning on the Column Straightening function. The column straightening function will also activate a feature called Clipped Text Detection. This feature will let you know if the text in an image is too close to the edge of the camera's sensor and will give you a chance to move the page to a better position so you can completely capture the entire page and not "chop off" a portion of it. TopOCR's Spell Check function, controlled by the F10 key, will let you compare the OCR output when using the option keys to help you determine if turning them on will increase OCR accuracy. Please remember that the Spell Check function returns a value that is not only the number of OCR errors but also correctly recognized words that are not in the Spell Check dictionary. As a result, the Spell Check function can return a number that may be higher than the actual number of recognition errors. Even with this limitation, the Spell Check function still returns a value that is suitable for comparison purposes. The F7 key can used to control the time delay when capturing an image from the document camera. This can be useful if you'd like to use your hands to flatten pages from a book, which as a result requires more time before the camera takes a photo after you press the Esc key.

TopOCR's 2 Setup Keys


TopOCR has 2 keys that are used to setup TopOCR, one is used to select a language for OCR recognition and Text To Speech output, and another to select a particular document camera or webcam to be used for scanning.

Enter - Select Document Camera - (only needed if you have more than one webcam/document camera plugged-in)
F11 - Select Language - Default is English

TopOCR and the Clipboard


After OCR, TopOCR automatically places the recognized text in the clipboard.

TopOCR's Global Illumination Check


In accessible mode, whenever you press Esc/O key to OCR a document, TopOCR will measure the total amount of available light on the scanned image and assign it a value from 0 to 255. If this value falls below 40% or 100, then TopOCR will give you a text to speech warning and will also provide you with the global illumination value. If this number is very low, below 10 for instance, it means that there is basically no illumination. Please note that if you have a dark background, it can give a lower than expected value, and as a result may generate a false warning.