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Google will soon translate your doctor’s terrible handwriting

Google will soon translate your doctor’s terrible handwriting


An AI and machine learning model tuned to decode hastily scrawled notes from doctors.

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A screenshot taken from the Google for Inida conference 2022, showing a demonstration of Google’s in-development handwriting detection tool.
Google is working with pharmacists to create a tool that can decipher the handwriting of doctors, detecting medications mentioned in otherwise hard-to-read prescriptions.
Image: Google

Google is developing an AI model that can decipher difficult-to-read handwriting, with a focus on notes and prescriptions written by doctors. During its annual conference in India on Monday, the search giant announced that it was working with pharmacists on an AI-powered machine learning model that can decode messily written medical notes (via TechCrunch).

Google showcased the feature during the event, demonstrating its capability to specifically detect medicines in a handwritten prescription. There’s no detail yet on when the new text deciphering feature is expected to launch or specifically what kind of product it might appear in.

From the Google India blog:

We announced today a state-of-the-art AI and machine learning model that can identify and even highlight medicines within handwritten prescriptions. This will act as an assistive technology for digitizing handwritten medical documents by augmenting the humans in the loop such as pharmacists, however no decision will be made solely based on the output provided by this technology.

While this system is currently under development, we look forward to sharing more updates on its broader rollout.

We’ve already seen similar technology implemented via Google Lens, an AI-powered multipurpose object recognition tool that can be used to detect objects (such as products, plants, or animal species) and translate languages. The Google Lens app can already be used to digitally transcribe handwritten notes, though, in our tests, the feature depended on how legible said handwriting is.

Update December 4:55PM ET: Updated to clarify the technology has not been announced for any particular product.