Technology.am (Sept. 17, 2009) — ReCAPTCHA Inc., a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Department, has been acquired by Google.
ReCAPTCHA developed online puzzles that serve the dual purpose of protecting Web sites and digitizing printed text.
The reCAPTCHA puzzles, which consist of words with distorted letters that computer users must decipher to register for services online or otherwise gain access to a Web site, began as a research project of Luis von Ahn, assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon.
Like similar CAPTCHA (Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) puzzles, reCAPTCHAs distinguish human visitors to Web sites from automated intruders. But reCAPTCHAs are created using words from printed texts that current optical character recognition programs are incapable of reading.
So when humans solve the puzzle, they also help digitize pre-computer-age books, newspapers and other printed materials.
ReCAPTCHAs were introduced in 2007 and are used by many leading Web sites. The company, ReCAPTCHA Inc., was founded by von Ahn in 2008.