What is AI and how Stamp Free are harnessing it to enable the sending and returning of items with just a smartphone.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a general category of technologies with the goal of imparting some level of human-like “thinking” such as prediction, recognition/classification, and the ability to “learn”, to computers. AI is actually not a new phenomenon but was first used in research in the 1950s, but it has taken until now for the right combination of factors to make truly usable AI a reality: largely faster, cheaper, and more available computing resources. Over the decades, AI has slowly entered into mainstream use – telephone banking, social media monitoring, robotics, self-driving cars, with early versions often heavily criticized but over time getting better, and better.
Handwriting recognition is the ability of a computer or a mobile device to read handwriting as actual text. The most common use case in today’s mobile world is handwriting recognition as a direct input to a touchscreen through a stylus or finger. This is useful as it allows the user to quickly jot down numbers and names for contacts as compared to inputting the same information via the onscreen keyboard. This is because most people are more comfortable with writing and can do it quickly.
Optical character recognition (OCR) is the most mainstream technique used for text recognition. This is done by scanning a document and then converting it into a digital format. OCR is already embedded into mainstream form sorting and processing systems (for example, for mail and check handling, and other types of financial applications and transactions).
At the heart of Stamp Free’s Digital Postage Solution is AI or, more specifically, ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) as the next step up. This is really where art meets science.
The Stamp Free app generates a unique code via the app, instead of a postage stamp or label. Once this is handwritten on the letter, parcel or return it needs to be validated and this is where the use of ICR in conjunction with smartphone technology comes in to play. Using the app, an image is taken of the handwritten code on the parcel or letter and it is converted in the blink of an eye to basic text to verify that the item has the correct code on it. This same technology is then used throughout the item’s journey by the carrier or postal company to scan the item just like a regular barcode.
And there are no concerns over the technology making a mistake. Stamp Free has advanced its ICR engine so much that it can cope with multitudes of handwriting styles leading to a 99%+ accuracy rate.