Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) is the scanning of paper to detect the presence or absence of a mark in a predetermined position. Optical mark recognition has evolved from several other technologies. In the early 1800’s and 1900’s patents were given for machines that would aid the blind. OMR is now used as an input device for data entry. Two early forms of OMR are paper tape and punch cards which use actual holes punched into the medium instead of pencil filled circles on the medium. Punch cards were created in 1890 and were used as input devices for computers. The use of punch cards declined greatly in the early 1970’s with the introduction of personal computers. With modern OMR, where the presence of a pencil filled in bubble is recognized, the recognition is done via an optical scanner.
The use of OMR is not only limited to schools or data collection agencies; many businesses and health care agencies use OMR to streamline their data input processes and reduce input error (“Who uses Remark Office OMR”). OMR, OCR, and ICR technologies all provide a means of data collection from paper forms. OMR may also be done using an OMR (discrete read head) scanner or an imaging scanner