Google Inc. has announced that it has acquired ReCAPTCHA Inc., a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Science Department responsible for developing online puzzles that both protect Web sites and aid in the digitizing of printed text.
reCAPTCHA functions like similar CAPTCHA systems, determining whether a visitor to a website is a human or an automated program by asking them to identify an image of a word. reCAPTCHAs are created using words from printed texts that current optical character recognition programs are incapable of reading. When the puzzle is solved by a human, it simultaneously aids in the digitizing of printed texts that would otherwise be indecipherable.
Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon and reCAPTCHA's creator, will remain on the computer science faculty while also working at Google's Pittsburgh engineering office.