Transkribus system makes breakthrough in understanding medieval texts | Euronews

How do you find a text in ancient manuscripts, and do it fast? Until recently, computers weren’t very good in reading handwritten scripts — but now artificial intelligence has produced a breakthrough.

The Tyrolean State Archive in Innsbruck stores countless documents dating from the 11th century onwards — mostly official records, legal documents and other important handwritten documents from the past. Transcribing these books isn’t easy. But this archive is working with scientists to automate the transcription using cutting-edge computer technologies.

“With difficult scripts I believe the new technique will have problems. But with relatively nice calligraphy, the new system has great advantages and helps us a lot,” says the Director of the archive, Christoph Haidacher.

To digitise such books, scientists working on a European research project, READ, designed a simple-to-use system based on a specially-developed smartphone application: it detects when pages are turned and automatically takes high-resolution photos of each page.

“We use, of course, a combination of low-tech and high-tech. A dark tent is a relatively simple, low-tech accessory. But it works with a high-tech app running on a smartphone that is connected to the Transkribus platform: the app uploads the images to the server that performs the recognition of the handwritten text,” says the READ project co-ordinator & Researcher in Digitalisation & Digital Preservation at the University of Innsbruck, Dr. Guenter Muehlberger.

Transkribus simplifies tasks that would often take years of work, helping scholars with complex handwritings and unusual layouts. It is currently being used to transcribe the 500-page “Hero Book“, the most significant anthology of Medieval German texts commissioned by Maximilian I in early 16th century.

Read on . . .

Source: Transkribus system makes breakthrough in understanding medieval texts | Euronews