Pleco’s OCR recognition module pretty darned fancy


As someone who is living in China and has only recently started learning Chinese, I am constantly flummoxed by Chinese characters. They might call it “Simplified Chinese”, but it still looks pretty complicated to me!

I have been using a dictionary on my phone called Pleco, which has been a fantastic tool. It’s packed with features, including flashcards, audio pronunciation (very useful for a tonal language like Mandarin), handwriting recognition (which is so accurate it’s almost eerie).

However, their latest update has brought along with it something that makes reading Chinese a complete breeze – an OCR recognition module, using the phone’s camera.

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and has been around for a while – it basically takes an image and turns it into text. This has a wide variety of uses, but for Chinese it is invaluable: now when I want to know what something means in Chinese, I can simply point my camera at it and let Pleco do the rest.

Here’s a video of this amazing technology in use:

Naturally I will still be learning Chinese as I can’t be entirely dependent upon my phone, but with so many Chinese characters, this has really helped me decode menus and signs when I needed it.

Isn’t technology fantastic?