There’s nothing we love more than warped words (or random numbers and letters) we have to type in before we’re allowed to comment. These CAPTCHAs cut down on spam (and, sometimes, legitimate comments. grrr.)—and every once in a while, someone comes along with a great idea to make that kind of technology useful, like reCAPTCHA using words scanned from old texts that OCR software can’t recognize.
A great idea, right? It’s so popular more than 100,000 websites have signed up to use the specialized CAPTCHAs, including Facebook and craigslist. I’m sure you can guess how this story ends: Google buys reCAPTCHA.
This is doubly beneficial for Google:
- They get cooler CAPTCHAs than the random strings of letters they’ve been using on Blogger and other services.
- They get free help decipher unintelligible words in their Google Books, Google News Archive and other scanning projects
Of course, there’s one little problem on this cool feature—if the computer couldn’t recognize the word in the first place, how will it know if you typed the right one? That’s what the second word is for—one of the words is one the computer already knows.
reCAPTCHA was a free, open source project, so with the way it’s structured now, it won’t be adding to Google’s bottom line.
What do you think? How else can this be beneficial to Google? Are they likely to start charging large clients for reCAPTCHAs?