The sheer volume of information around us from the Internet and other sources is on the rise, and information retrieval technologies for rapidly and accurately locating necessary information have taken on added importance. Ricoh is engaged in research into advanced document and image retrieval technologies, focusing on the documents and images that play an important role in offices.
Ricoh has developed a number of technologies for instant, accurate, and simple search for necessary information. For instance, Ricoh has an original document and image indexing technology to ensure high-speed searching. We also have a technology that ensures accurate searches by ranking search results in descending order of the degree of matching with search conditions. Instead of devising search conditions, the user can use sentences or images at hand as search keys to simply search for related or similar information.
Figure 1 shows an example of the use of a complete sentence as a search key in a patent search.
Figure 1: Example of a search performed using a complete sentence as the search condition
Figure 2 shows an example of an image search. When the user performs a search by designating as a search key a particular drawing from among multiple drawings (1), it is possible to instantly retrieve similar drawings (2).
Figure 2: Example of an image search performed using a reference image
These search technologies are used in many Ricoh products. Document retrieval technologies have been introduced in products including the Ridoc series of software products for document management in offices, the LIMEDIO library management system, and the RIPWAY patent information search service.
For instance, with the Ridoc Document Server Ep for enterprises we have taken advantage of the high efficiency of these technologies to realize document management of 15 million items on a single server. The image search technology is also used in RIPWAY, a service that has won a reputation for excellence for highly efficient, accurate, and convenient patent searches by comprehensively combining document search and image search.
It is no exaggeration to say that the patent drawing search function incorporated in RIPWAY that searches for images using reference images is unique in the industry. Previously, searches for patent drawings could only be performed by means of visual identification of the necessary drawings involving physical examination of large volumes of paper documents. RIPWAY has greatly contributed to improvement of user work efficiency by achieving outstanding performance that enables searching among 50 million images in a few seconds. Furthermore, the technology achieves high operability by not merely searching for images using reference images, but also by offering a refine search function to narrow down search results through repeated searching.