Microsoft has added, in public preview, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) support for two of South Africa’s official languages, Afrikaans and Zulu.
“Adding support for these languages is part of Microsoft’s mission to build meaningful cognitive products and services that improve local engagement,” says Rory Preddy, senior cloud advocate at Microsoft South Africa.
“This support, which now counts a total of 73 languages, means that more people are able to connect in their own language and that language will become a seamless feature of using technology, rather than a hindrance.”
OCR support for local languages allows users to use visual data processing to label content with objects and concepts, extract text, generate image descriptions and moderate content. It currently provides text and handwriting recognition. “The next step is to also understand different dialects within the languages supported, in order to enable speech support,” says Preddy.
“OCR support for various languages further opens up doors to connect people with technology in their own language, using language as a critical differentiator for cognitive services and products that are able to change and improve everyday life by making the world more accessible and inclusive,” says Preddy.
This understanding of the essential role of cognitive tools encourages Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services team to create and develop AI tools and solutions that make a tangible difference. “These solutions aim to level the playing field to ultimately empower individuals and organisations to do and achieve more,” says Preddy.