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Akuodigital digitizes scribbles into legible documents

Business is flourishing for Akuodigital thanks to increased demand for digitized documents

By Oct 06, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Akuodigital CEO Kim Yong-seop
Akuodigital CEO Kim Yong-seop

South Korea-based Akuodigital Corp. is a startup that uses artificial intelligence technology to digitize all types of paper documents. And instead of simply scanning the documents to create digital image files, the company detects the actual handwriting and converts it into text files where users can search specific words or sentences.

The company was founded in 2014 by Kim Yong-seop, the chief executive of Akuodigital. Kim, who previously worked as a developer at leading IT companies such as Naver Corp., SecureSoft Inc. and AhnLab Inc., came up with the idea for Akuodigital while making scanned copies of books that he wanted to read on business trips as the e-book market wasn't active then.

Akuodigital's core technology is the AI-based optical character recognition (OCR) engine, KANDA, which has acquired a vast pool of handwritten data to recognize and deduce letters.

Through this, KANDA can identify scribbled letters and distinguish between similar letters alongside correcting them to fit the context. It also allows KANDA to digitize paper documents that have been crumpled or even partially ruined.

As of this 2021, KANDA’s accuracy level of letter recognition stands at 99.34%.

So far, Akuodigital’s KANDA has learned around 6 million Korean cursive characters and around 1.2 million Japanese cursive characters. It also uses existing data to self-generate cursive handwriting. Currently, KANDA can digitize up to 1 million sheets of paper on a daily basis.

In 2020, Akuodigital digitized around 120 million sheets of paper. It provides services to around 300 clients including Hyundai Motor Co., Samsung Biologics Co., the Presidential Archives and the National Assembly Library. 

Notably, the demand for Akuodigital services has increased since the amendment to the Basic Act of Electronic Documents and Electronic Commerce came into effect last year, giving digital documents the same legal effect as physical documents.

Also, the prolonged global pandemic and the push for environment, social, governance (ESG) initiative has driven the demand for digitized documents.

Earlier in August, Akuodigital secured 20 billion won ($16.8 million) in a Series B funding round. So far, the company has raised a total of 30 billion won. The company plans to use the proceeds to further improve its AI engine and to expand its business abroad.

Write to Han-gyeol Seon at always@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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