Overall image legibility has been found, in a study by an ANSI sub-group,
to be jeopardized by 1) low reflectance of background and by 2)
background clutter left in binary images after drop out of portions
of the background design. (See the check images in Figure 3.) Low
reflectance causes low contrast and unintended dropout of vital
information, while high contrast background patterns cause random
background clutter to remain in binary images that renders handwriting
ambiguous. Background clutter is measured by creating a binary image
of the AOI, then converting it from grayscale to black-and-white
using an ANSI defined process, and then measuring the clusters of
black pixels (paxel count) which remain after conversion. See Figure
2 for an example of paxel strings. The image-based measuring process
visually shows which inks are causing low reflectance and background
clutter, down to the pixel level, so that the check designer and
printer can rearrange graphic features or modify the background
The new standard also specifies, in detail, the design of an image-based
test device and the required image processing algorithms to perform
these new ANSI measurements. This allows any company interested
in testing equipment to manufacture and supply test equipment. Providing
this detail results in no unfair advantages of one company over
of Interest Analysis
Figure 3 • Progression
of Original Check To Stored
Image Check Images Copyright Clarke
American Checks, Inc.
On A Lark® Design
Copyright 2000 Kevin Whitlark
purposes, a scanner is used to convert a check into a binary image.
The test device then tests for ANSI conformance for background reflectance
and paxel count in the AOIs. A display shows a binary image like
the one in Figure 3, which simulates the bank image equipment, giving
an indication of what a bank image of the check will look like.
This allows for overall evaluation of the esthetic appeal and general
usability of a binary image resulting from a particular check design.
More advanced devices will calculate the image file size to indicate
the storage requirements of such a design. Electronic storage size
has become a major issue as banks want to store as many images as
possible on a CD, or transmit them via Internet to clients.
The new standard
resulted from considerable research over three years by the ANSI
workgroup, which included representatives from all the key players
in the check processing industry. Hundreds of check images from
current industry reader-sorters were evaluated to determine just
where the threshold of human legibility of handwriting lay relative
to check background. As we move into the future, ANSI X9.7 (1999)
will be the guide to image-ready check design. The electronic age
of checks is upon us as financial institutions continue to adopt
image processing to automate data entry, truncate checks, convert
to image statements, replace microfilm with image archival, and
move to image exchange with other banks.
RDM Corp is the primary supplier of equipment for this particular
test. The measuring device RDM produces is called the Image Qualifier
IQ-X97, and is approved by the ANSI Standard. However, for more
information, contact Peter Hanna of RDM at address below.
The new ANSI standard can be purchased at http://web.ansi.org/public/std_info.html.
Information Source: DMIA