Abbyy has announced the availability of its FotoReader software, the first standalone text conversion software targetted at the consumer market.

Its pretty clever stuff really. Take a picture of a document, sign or any other printed text, connect your camera up to your PC and FotoReader will convert the text in the picture into a document, including formats such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PDF.

FotoReader can process texts in 184 languages including Latin, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew and Cyrillic languages, and will also reproduce special text formatting such as columns and tables.

Uses for the programme can include photographing book pages rather than taking copies, capturing text from presentations rather than taking notes, and saving business cards as a PDF file with a text layer, making them easily searchable using desktop search functions.

FotoReader recognises text thanks to its optical chracter recognition technology (OCR). Whereas previously, conversion of photographed text required a high quality image with certain lighting conditions and parameters, the new OCR technology corrects distorted images so text can be read.

Registered Abbyy users will also get a bonus application in Abbyy Screenshot Reader, which does the same thing as the FotoReader but from screenshots, believe it or not.

Abbyy FotoReader is available now for £39.99. For a list of stockists, head over to Abbyy's website.