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17 September 2009, 16:39

Google acquires reCAPTCHA

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An example CAPTCHA from the reCAPTCHA blog.
Google has announced that it has acquired reCAPTCHA, one of the leading providers of free CAPTCHAs. CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) are small pictures of alphanumeric sequences that have been visually distorted and are often used by web sites and even routers as human authentication tests to prevent malicious programs from obtaining email accounts for spamming or gaining access to administrator settings.

ReCAPTCHA uses scans of old document which are either damaged, poorly printed, or use obscure fonts, as a source for CAPTCHA authentication images. Successful human responses are fed back into the OCR scan to improve the quality of the recovered text.

According to the post on the Official Gooogle Blog, reCAPTCHA, once a project at the Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, already provides CAPTCHAs to help protect more than 100,000 websites from spam and fraud. In addition to increasing fraud and spam protection for its products, Google plans to use the technology to improve the way that it scans text for its Google Books and Google News Archive Search projects. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology in conjunction with information provided by reCAPTCHA, will make it easier to accurately convert scans of old documents to digital text. Terms and financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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