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Google Patent: Recognizing Text In Images

Published January 3, 2008

     
2:34 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A patent application filed by Google (NSDQ: GOOG) with the World Intellectual Property Organization in June 2007 and published on Thursday points to more sophisticated search techniques.
The filing suggests that the privacy issues raised by Google Maps Street View will only get more complicated, that YouTube searchers may one day be able to conduct keyword searches for text captured on video, and that Google searches may one day return a list of products on local store shelves.

"Recognizing Text In Images" is an application to patent a method of optical character recognition in digital images.

Google Patent: Recognizing Text In Images [informationweek.com]

Methods, systems, and apparatus including computer program products for using extracted image text are provided. In one implementation, a computer-implemented method is provided. The method includes receiving an input of one or more image search terms and identifying keywords from the received one or more image search terms. The method also includes searching a collection of keywords including keywords extracted from image text, retrieving an image associated with extracted image text corresponding to one or more of the image search terms, and presenting the image.

RECOGNIZING TEXT IN IMAGES [wipo.int]

2:42 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Interesting! Let's hope the spammers don't get hold of this or Captcha is dead.
3:12 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm always amazed when people get away with patenting the obvious.
3:32 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Search meets OCR.

Correction: Google Search meets OCR. Under 'CLAIMS', #5 reads "[..] further comprising: presenting one or more advertisements with the presented image." (my emphasis)

4:06 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I want to patent invention.

No, not an invention. I just want to patent invention itself.

We already use such methodology in security to recognize badges and read classification off from individuals at a distance, even when moving...

4:40 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"We already use such methodology in security to recognize badges and read classification off from individuals at a distance, even when moving..."

That recognising something certain that you are looking for though, not text in an image which could be anywhere, broken in anyway, different colours, font types yada yada...

4:59 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google has recently added (can't remember when, but in the past year), full-text search to Google Books. Of course, it still tends to read "bruin" as "brum" and so forth, just like 10 years ago, so I'm not expecting anything radical soon out of the text out of images patent.

It's great marketing though. By filing patents frequently for technologies that probably aren't even close to workable in the near future, Google appears to be a technology leader and innovator without having to deliver anything and without even promising anything at all. It's much more savvy than the vaporware strategy that got MS so much bad press.

5:41 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Well I am going to patent Shop Window Optimisation. There will no longer be a need to place product there for people to browse as they are walking by, you just cram the window full of keywords so that when Google indexes your street photographically you'll end up well ranked for all local searches.
5:43 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it's time to trot out photo galleries with signs reading "Viagra," "Mesothelioma," or "Debt consolidation" in the foreground of scenes with the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, or Britney Spears.
8:00 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Great.

I can envision a whole new generation of link spam:

Graffiti artists are now the equivalent of forum spammers.

Those flyers stapled to telephone poles at traffic lights are now the equiv of junk mail.

The homeless guy with sign is now a pop-up ad. (a dhtml one at that!)

Writing "I will not ..." 100x on a chalkboard is keyword stuffing.

I think Iím going to rock salt my back yard with keywords and hyperlinks.

Anyone want to buy a link?
(Just kidding G)

9:56 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"By filing patents frequently for technologies that probably aren't even close to workable in the near future, Google appears to be a technology leader and innovator without having to deliver anything and without even promising anything at all."

I don't know that these new technologies aren't close to workable...aren't all the video search engines (Blinkx, Pixsy, Everyzing, Truveo) in the business of searching videos using both image recognition software and voice recognition software? That is why those schooled in video optimization recommend using titles on the video screen, etc. So, the question for me is how much is the technology that Google is trying to patent like that image recognition software used by video search engines?

10:57 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Considering Google has been working on these problems since Google Catalogs (launched in 1991?) and have already applied it to Google Book Search, I'd say they must have some working technology under the hood. All they are finally saying is they intend to apply it to any image and they want to be the only one to do it. That's going to go for web images, text in videos, email attachments, anything.

Google's Lab experiments aren't always what they initially seem to be. Google Catalogs wasn't about mail-order catalogs, it was about Google having a test set to hone their OCR technology so they can apply it to everything.

9:19 am on Jan 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google Catalogs (launched in 1991?)

Erm, was there even a Google in 1991?

5:47 pm on Jan 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Whoops, mixed up my decades again. ;) I should google these things before i go posting willy-nilly in a web forum.

Google Catalogs actually launched in 2001 [google.com].

9:35 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This, in my opinion, would help Google dominate local search if it comes to fruition. The streets software would likely be integrated with webpages about the shop/location you're looking at. We already know that anything Google commands a ton of backlinks, Google could conceivably become #1 for all local searches. Google already places advertisers links/maps above the real serp results for local.
6:49 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Dont see how a patent can be applied to somethign thats been used for years. ANPR cameras for example. Automatic number plate recognition. Cops use it with dash cameras. Read your number plate as you drive, cross check your vehicle registration number on police national computer. This gives them back enough info to know if the car needs to be stopped for no insurance, stolen etc.

Mack.

3:46 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Just because it can be done doesn't mean you cannot file a patent. It is quite possible that they figured out a way of doing it better, faster, or possibly in just a different way. Many of the above arguments are just incorrect.

An example:

A camera takes a picture. There are hundreds of cameras on the market. Most if not all have 1 or more patents on them. It could be something as stupid as something to deal with the lens cap or something as unique as a new type of image format. It doesn't matter, as long as it is different from past inventions in some manner.

8:47 pm on Jan 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I thought Nokia were already developing this technology to work in mobile phone handsets. It would be a point and click picture recognition service that went one step further and actually searched the net and matched your request.

So a person wanting to buy a new iPod would take a picture of the ipod, the technology would recgnoise the item and search a database of registered retailers and order 1 from the cheapest matching product.

The iPod would then be delivered to your doorstep. Obviously, to use the service you would be registered in a central database that either had funds already deposited or was linked to your credit card/bank etc.

I can't remember where I seen this, I might have read it in the newspaper or seen a report about it on tv. Although I do not know if it would be exactly the same, I can see it being very easily adapted if a mobile phone contained a bar code scanner and that would be able to search much more easily and much less possibilities for ordering incorrect items.

9:03 pm on Jan 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My guess is that the application of a technology or concept for a certain process or business use is what's being considered patentable. Using reading text in images for search isn't the same as the scanner reading the bar code at the super market to ring up the product on the register and adjust the store's inventory.

There have been a ton of patents granted with regard to link analysis (or text recognition or semantic analysis) in search, but while they're all analyzing for the same purpose, the process and data being used, and the particular way they're being applied, are different.

There was a thread here at WebmasterWorld way back in 2001 about Alta Vista having just about everything for search patented, but that didn't stop any further patents from being issued to other companies.