reCAPTCHA Acquisition by Google


See the image above? That is a CAPTCHA. If you have been around the blogosphere or the internet for quite some time, you would be very familiar with this type of images. If not, then here is a simple explanation. CAPTCHA is a distorted image containing alphanumeric text. It is used to distinguish humans from computers by asking the user to type what they see in a text box and submit it. This is very effective in stopping automated spammers from entering a system because computers cannot read CAPTCHAs!

reCAPTCHA, a company that provides CAPTCHAs to thousands of websites has been acquired by Google. How will this benefit Google? Well, the obvious reason is for Google to enhance it and provide a more secure online atmosphere from spammers thus giving Google a better reputation. The less obvious reason is to further improve Google’s existing projects like the Google News and Google News Archive Search projects.

These projects involve scanning books and newspapers (physical ones) and converting them into text or what is more famously known as OCR (Optical Character Recognition). The problem with this is the scanned books or newspapers already have their text sometimes unreadable due to age. With the help of the reCAPTCHA technology, Google will use these unreadable text as CAPTCHAs. Then, the mass users of CAPTCHA will be helping Google translate this hard to read text into readable ones by submitting it in the text box forms.