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Microsoft Excel can automatically convert photographed tables into fully editable spreadsheets

By Shawn Knight · 12 replies
Mar 2, 2019
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  1. Data entry just became way easier thanks to Microsoft. Using the latest version of Excel on Android, it’s now possible to snap a photo of a printed data table using your mobile device and automatically convert it into a fully editable spreadsheet.

    The new image recognition functionality eliminates the need for manual data entry and could be a real time saver, especially if you work with printed tables on a regular basis.

    Microsoft first teased the feature, dubbed Insert Data from Picture, at its annual Ignite conference last year as one of four new artificial intelligence features designed to make Excel even more useful.

    It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft utilizes image recognition, machine learning and AI to bring similar features and other enhancements to additional Office apps. If Microsoft can continue to roll out meaningful additions that genuinely help users boost the quality of their work or get more done in less time, users will accept them with open arms.

    Insert Data from Picture is rolling out now in the Excel Android app and will be coming to iOS soon.

    Lead image courtesy Faizal Ramli via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Plutoisaplanet

    Plutoisaplanet TS Booster Posts: 102   +78

    This is amazing! I hope we can convert images on the web to tables too, and this eventually comes to desktop. Instead of copying tables from webpages, I’d screenshot them so that I don’t copy over unnecessary formatting/ghost columns.
    Knot Schure likes this.
  3. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Guru Posts: 414   +265

    This is pretty sweet, but it's not going to copy any of the formulas behind some of that data on tables. Either way, I like it.
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,104   +3,658

    The only problem with this is that current OCR tech is not perfect. I use OCR to copy documents into a digital format and it's right about 90% of the time. You always have to make sure to double check and correct any mistakes. A quality camera is highly recommended. Definitely a nice speed up but I can see it causing some homework mistakes.
  5. Eldritch

    Eldritch TS Addict Posts: 134   +131

    Abby Finereader is standard in all offices, isn't it? Great to see giants are finally learning after a decade.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,541   +3,919

    Pretty cool .... can't wait to see how the "look alike" programs react to that one!
  7. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 896   +430

    But would it convert an Ikea computer table?
  8. netman

    netman TS Evangelist Posts: 351   +112

    MS Word should follow to have this feature too or thru the Excel's table element insertion. Most common, simple tables are used in Word for documentation of reports without having external links...
  9. Dosahka

    Dosahka TS Addict Posts: 158   +60

    You are right, you have to recheck, but still less time than enter manually to quickly get up and running.
    Obv. it will not carry over the formulas...etc but it is good to see that these things getting into not so expensive consumer products too. (e.g using Google Translate on texts using your smart device).
    Even the best OCR is as good as the printed material.
  10. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 529   +141

    As others have said bring it to the desktop, screen capture, etc.
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,021   +1,561

    Hmm; Just how useful can this be for tables which scroll (either dimension) and thus just a fragment can be photographed?? Big wasted effort IMO
  12. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +693

    I don't see why it couldn't in the future though. I ran into tables most often in my engineering text books, and those usually had printed formulas nearby. Snap another pic, and let Excel work out which columns and row correlate to which equation terms - can be done by "simply" inputting the values and seeing which ones in which terms makes the formula return as TRUE.

    We're probably still a few years away from a commercial deployment, but I would be surprised if Microsoft didn't experiment with this functionality while they were developing this feature.
    Dosahka likes this.
  13. Dosahka

    Dosahka TS Addict Posts: 158   +60

    In this case yes, it can work and make you life easier!

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