ILABO Co., Ltd.
Masanobu Horiguchi , CEO
ILABO Co., Ltd. was founded as a university-originated venture based on the online handwriting recognition technology developed by Nakagawa Laboratory of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology . The handwriting recognition software with high level of perfection is getting much attention from various fields such as medical field and education.
Conversion of handwriting to data
As devices with handwriting input function, such as iPad and smart phones, have been released one after another, handwriting recognition technology has drawn much attention. The front-runner in this area is ILABO.
We interviewed Mr. Horiguchi, CEO of ILABO Co., Ltd.
“Chosen for ‘Program for Creating Start-ups from Advanced Research and Technology ’ of Japan Science and Technology Agency for Fiscal Year 2008, we were founded in December 2011 as a university-originated venture from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology based on outputs of the three-year commissioned research and development."
Nakagawa Laboratory of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology has worked on research of handwriting recognition technology since around 1980. Mr. Horiguchi supports spreading the technology to the world by applying and commercializing the technology. Together with Professor Nakagawa, he is making efforts to spread this new technology to the society.
Handwriting (right) to text data (left).
“Handwriting recognition” means to read handwritten characters and convert them to data. It considers movements of fingers and a pen as series of dots and makes a judgment of which character it is. The result is then changed to text data by converting it to character code.
The notable point of the technology of ILABO Co., Ltd. is its high-precision recognition rate.
“Technology that we have developed achieves recognition rate of 99 % or higher for text written inside a given writing area and 95 % or higher for free handwriting without any area specified.”
The technology is applicable not only to vertical and horizontal writing styles but also to obliquely written characters. In addition, it can also recognize peculiar handwriting, cursive handwriting, rewriting, and overwriting. In order to realize this reading precision, approximately 3 million handwritten characters were collected, with help from various population groups of genders and ages, and the program was made to learn them.
For mixtures of shapes and characters such as maps, the former is recognized as images and the latter as texts.
Alphabets are also recognized, and it is now possible to read numerical formulas with a formula recognition engine.
It is also equipped with language processing technology utilizing context information of Japanese. Another characteristic of the technology is its shortened recognition time. Information gets converted as it is being written almost instantly.
More implementation in medical
and educational areas
Special pen and pad are used for recognition of handwriting, but an application to save what is written on paper as both hardcopy and text data has been also developed.
Various fields such as medical, education, and insurance have started using this handwriting recognition system.
The first application was handwritten electronic medical records for clinics. Because information can be imported into a computer by handwriting input which is same method as before, it can be used without inconvenience. It is attracting interests for its low introduction cost and high operation efficiency.
In education field, it has been introduced for scoring by teachers. Digitalization is enabled in a way to score on conventional answer sheets, and the total result of scores and data on which various analyses can be made are output. Score marks such as ○, ×, and △ and partial scores can be also recognized.
Digital workbooks and self-study system have been developed for students’ study. As the technology also recognizes time elapse, the correct writing sequence of a Kanji character can be checked as well.
In financial areas such as insurance, on the other hand, the technology has been in practice for digitalization of forms such as application forms. A new merit of recording in both hardcopy paper and database is getting much attention.
The Venture Technology Awards Ceremony
Mr. Horiguchi said, “We would like to create a unique handwriting recognition system suitable for each company’s usage. We can be flexible because of our size.”
Even with further IT development, “handwriting words” will never disappear, and thus possibility for utilization of a handwriting recognition system will keep expanding. For the future efforts ILABO Co., Ltd. will also develop technology for recognition of foreign languages.
“The Tokyo Venture Technology Awards” which are given to innovative, promising products and technologies developed by small/medium-sized companies full of venture spirits awarded ILABO with the “Encouragement Award” in 2014. Efforts by ILABO will continue without stop.
Tokyo University of
Agriculture and Technology
The office of ILABO Co., Ltd. is located on the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology campus. It is one of incubation facilities of the University.
“Industry-academia collaboration” has been encouraged in Tokyo, especially in the Tama area, and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology is part of the effort. With the Center for Innovation and Intellectual Property as its base, the University has been actively promoting creation of new technologies, acquisition of their rights, and support of business start-ups, and has produced results.
“Because many of our clients are located at the center of the metropolitan, we are located at a great location here in Higashi-koganei as it takes about 30 minutes to the center and sub-center areas by train.
Above all, the Laboratory is nearby, and we can maintain close contact with them. That is the best advantage.”
Located in a great environment most suitable for focusing on research and development, collaboration between ILABO and the Laboratory continues to be built every day.