Today I'm spending the day at the Canopy Group's Banker's Summit. The Canopy Group is a private venture group backed by Ray Noorda, the driving force behind Novell in its hey day. The day is basically a back to back series of presentations by some of the Canopy companies. First up is iArchives, a company that makes analog documents (like paper and microfilm) fully searchable. Russ Wilding is the President of iArchives and an old friend. Our wives went to high school together, so I've known him long before there was any high-tech connection.
iArchives is fundamentally a company built on character recognition technology. They have contracts with some major newspapers to digitize old papers and make them available on-line. The character recognition is used to create indexes for searching, not to deliver text to the user. The user sees the original image.
Interestingly enough, there is a eGovernment connection with what they do. One of their clients is a firearms manufacturer who wants to make their records available electronically to the ATF. The IT process that places like the ATF use to track firearms would scare you. This kind of technology could help.