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Introduction

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) is the technology of electronically extracting intended data from marked fields, such as checkboxes and fill-in fields, on printed forms. It is generally distinguished from OCR by the fact that a recognition engine is not required. This requires the image to have high contrast and an easily-recognizable or irrelevant shape. OMR technology scans a printed form and reads predefined positions and records where marks are made on the form. This technology is useful for applications in which large numbers of hand-filled forms need to be processed quickly and with great accuracy, such as surveys, reply cards, questionnaires and ballots.

Optical mark recognition Gallery

Background

Many traditional OMR(Optical Mark Recognition) devices work with a dedicated scanner device that shines a beam of light onto the form paper. The contrasting reflectivity at predetermined positions on a page is then utilized to detect the marked areas because they reflect less light than the blank areas of the paper. Some OMR devices use forms which are preprinted onto 'transoptic' paper and measure the amount of light which passes through the paper, thus a mark on either side of the paper will reduce the amount of light passing through the paper.


In contrast to the dedicated OMR device, desktop OMR software allows a user to create their own forms in a word processor and print them on a laser printer. The OMR software then works with a common desktop image scanner with a document feeder to process the forms once filled out. OMR is generally distinguished from optical character recognition by the fact that a complicated pattern recognition engine is not required. That is, the marks are constructed in such a way that there is little chance of not reading the marks correctly. This does require the image to have high contrast and an easily-recognizable or irrelevant shape. A related field to OMR and OCR is the recognition of barcodes such as the UPC bar code found on product packaging. Many of today's OMR applications involve people filling in specialized forms. These forms are optimized for computer scanning, with careful registration in the printing, and careful design so that ambiguity is reduced to the minimum possible. Due to its extremely low error rate, low cost and ease-of-use, OMR is a popular method of tallying votes.