Now you can haz cheezeburger
April 24, 2014 2:06 PM   Subscribe

 
And it's amazing.
posted by Cosine at 2:14 PM on April 24, 2014


Finally, a reason to stop complaining about restaurants that embed their addresses and phone numbers in graphics.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:15 PM on April 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Google Books, Amazon Look Inside .. see if that Fair Use ruling still holds up
posted by stbalbach at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


*begins lolcats transcription project*
posted by Think_Long at 2:17 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


And it's amazing.

Yup. I didn't mean to undersell it in the post, but the possible positive effects of something like this could be huge and I didn't want to sound silly. All that stuff no one bothers to re-type is now something you can cut and paste and email around, etc. The extension's a bit hinky so far using it anywhere other than the host site, but once you get used to the delay it works well. It could probably use some UI improvements to indicate it's working on recognizing the image and you need to be patient. And no idea how the performance will scale now that I've shown it to all my best friends here. Don't tell anyone else, ok?
posted by yerfatma at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Google Glass + Project Naptha + GoogleTranslate = Realtime translation of signs/texts in front of you.
posted by Thing at 2:28 PM on April 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


Thing, Word Lens already does that, on iOS and Android. I don't think it has glass support yet, but glass isn't even available to the public yet (still).

(I haven't tried word lens myself. Reviews suggest the translations are not always the best. On the plus side, no network connection is required)
posted by aubilenon at 2:31 PM on April 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


When I really need this at work, I use OneNote and it does a passable job, sometimes. Sometimes it just looks at me like lolwhut?
posted by soelo at 2:32 PM on April 24, 2014


Finally, a reason to stop complaining about restaurants that embed their addresses and phone numbers in graphics.

No. Never.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:33 PM on April 24, 2014 [33 favorites]


Thing, take a look at Word Lens which does this all in one neat package.
posted by 4th number at 2:34 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think it has glass support yet

Per 4th number's link, it does.
posted by yerfatma at 2:37 PM on April 24, 2014


saw/vzws /r/Davis! fl/V5 Fae A/007752 EXCLUSIVE ll/35)’ " M¢TER6ATE APOFILE '/ ropxzws 03/fa/my — J0///V MITCHELL’

JOHN MITCHELL, T/IE
Foe/»1£.e as. ATTORNEY 66'/V£RflL, /M5 /1‘! RECENT K/EEK5 555/V REPEATEDLY L/A/K59 It/lfll $7}! 7715 W/?TE3€6«47F CAWER ,4/VD /T5 COVER-M.7

1774014-0 EEA P/$55?!//CE T0 MK. MITCHELL A/JP H/5 OMR/7C7ER T0 RQEJUDEE me mm BUTEI/ERY77///V6 K/V01!/N T0 am? coaw L£4D OIVE TD COVCLUW //.5 '5 6l//L7'Y/

T!/AT5 so/aw ea/ax 6a/Ln; a//¢7y/_/
You know, I was all revved up to be excited about this, but the technology seems to have some difficulty even with relatively legible hand-lettering.

I used the Tesseract OCR system, by the way; the results of the default were even worse.
posted by The Confessor at 2:38 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Funny, I was just getting excited about cutting and pasting out of comic books scans. Doesn't seem to work very well.

Yet.
posted by yerfatma at 2:41 PM on April 24, 2014


Reminds me of an article Alexei Sayle wrote in the Observer Magazine (20 March 1994):
I was walking past an oriental takeaway with a Chinese friend of mine the other day and I asked her if the pictograms (Chinese does not use an alphabet but a vast series of symbols or pictures to form words) above the shop corresponded with what was written up there in English. Not at all, she said. Apparently, although the shop sign might say "Peking Boat -- Chinese and Malay Specialities -- Eat Here or Take Away", "Wing Wah Hot Meals To Go" or "Sun-Ming Chip Shop", the Chinese Pictograms, often done by British sign-writers, are chosen at random and generally form phrases of complete gibberish such as "Horse Trouser Factory Outlet", "Wings To Run Away With" or "Baghead Muck -- Wibble Wobble a Speciality". The takeaway we were walking past proclaimed in Mandarin "The Glib Fish -- Don't Smell That Auntie!"
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:43 PM on April 24, 2014 [14 favorites]


Heh, they managed to misspell naphtha. Even funnier because they abandoned an earlier name because they didn't know how to spell it.

(Super cool project and idea though, I'm sure it'll get better with recognition.)
posted by kmz at 2:45 PM on April 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Horse Trouser Factory Outlet"

That's going straight on my sockpuppet wishlist.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:45 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Don't tell me you were still paying full price!
posted by yerfatma at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm frustrated that people want to communicate so often now in image macros and rage comics and "infographics" that are not designed or produced with longevity/reusability/accessibility in mind, and that this makes a massively popular and growing dimension of the web less valuable over time.

I don't do these things myself.

But, since zillions of other people do and love doing so, I'm glad that thanks to this kind of technology hopefully content of that sort which exists today (and will continue to be produced for better or worse) will not necessarily become lost, unsearchable, and unusable in the future.
posted by trackofalljades at 2:50 PM on April 24, 2014


If you have a Windows Phone, the free Translator app will do real-time in-situ translation of whatever you point it at, overlaying the original text in the video image. It'll also let you speak into your 'phone and the language of your choice comes out of it...

There are a number of commercial products that do screen capture or screenshot reading with OCR, and have been for a number of years: I've just tested one (well, the one our company makes, disclaimer!) and it's considerably better in terms of output, but then it isn't $0.
posted by alasdair at 2:54 PM on April 24, 2014


I'm frustrated that people want to communicate so often now in image macros and rage comics and "infographics" that are not designed or produced with longevity/reusability/accessibility in mind, and that this makes a massively popular and growing dimension of the web less valuable over time.

I've heard it said that two of the most valuable and under-appreciated things our brains do are to ignore stuff and to forget stuff.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:56 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Facebook "image" memes there are just, say, white text on a black background have always baffled me. I guess this will help me if I want to copy some quote misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.
posted by brundlefly at 3:07 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


a reason to stop complaining about restaurants that embed their addresses and phone numbers in graphics

not even if i live 10,000 years
posted by elizardbits at 3:10 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


1774014-0 EEA P/$55?!//CE T0 MK. MITCHELL A/JP H/5 OMR/7C7ER T0 RQEJUDEE me mm BUTEI/ERY77///V6 K/V01!/N T0 am? coaw L£4D OIVE TD COVCLUW //.5 '5 6l//L7'Y/

This seems accurate to me. I mean, in the sense that it looks just about like the comments people post here via their phones.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:19 PM on April 24, 2014


It is very rare that a real breakthrough seems to occur in applications anymore. All the milestones are achieved in tiny checksum sized portions these days. But this, this is sort of mindblowing.
posted by mediocre at 3:23 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is going to be a huge HUGE deal for people who are blind, or who have limited eyesight and use a screen reader. Seriously, i'd be amazed if a lot of people approaching this from that angle aren't freaking out right now.

I can't believe it took this long for the tech to be able to grab this stuff, that's almost always just a simple font... but yea, this was a huge accessibility headache for the web.
posted by emptythought at 3:31 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


All the milestones are achieved in tiny checksum sized portions these days. But this, this is sort of mindblowing.

Is this really that big a step from existing OCR?
posted by forgetful snow at 3:44 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am incredibly excited about this, but it's not going to completely dazzle Douglas Hofstadter yet (previously).

In his book "Metamagical Themas" there are a couple of chapters devoted to the problem of teaching a computer to recognize written letters with anything like the facility that human's do. In "Fluid Concepts" he even proposes a model of such a program.

Project Naptha is a pretty groovy first step, though.
posted by cleroy at 3:47 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is this really that big a step from existing OCR?

Nope. But programming achievements aren't cool in and of themselves. They're cool when they're wrapped in UI that lets everyone (for various definitions of "everyone") use them.
posted by yerfatma at 4:13 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Couple this with face recognition, and a single operation will get you "Roses are red, violets are blue [the face of Albert Einstein]".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2014


Doesn't seem to work on Google Books (which is a shame because that would absolutely change my life).
posted by neroli at 5:18 PM on April 24, 2014


Holy crap, this is cool. I had to reload the same pages/images in Firefox, just to make sure the text wasn't somehow actually text.
posted by carter at 5:55 PM on April 24, 2014


I've always found it bizarrely ironic that the internet has mostly decided that the best way to get someone to read something is to type it out and then post a photograph of your words.

Described that way, it sounds like it must've been a deliberate revolt against the databases indexing every word we type, but it's actually just that people like pictures of cats.
posted by straight at 6:29 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you have Iron, you can't install it from the link, but it's available in the Chrome Web store.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:29 PM on April 24, 2014


Doesn't seem to work on Google Books

No, it's thwarted by the old-school attempts at preventing right-clicks where Google and Amazon drop an element over the image so you are clicking on an empty HTML element and not the image. At some point someone will build an extension that sees through those overlay elements and then a real rain will come.
posted by yerfatma at 6:30 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wow. I had javascript turned off at first so I switched suddenly from "what's he talking about, this is just an image" to "holy crap."
posted by postcommunism at 7:18 PM on April 24, 2014


It's like people get to just do what
they want to do.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 9:23 PM on April 24, 2014


Even having read the explanation, I don't understand how this works. It just seems like magic.

I love living in the future.
posted by Georgina at 9:31 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


carter: If you have Javascript turned on/NoScript turned off, a script on that page (hosted on Appspot) will replicate the plugin's effect.
posted by BiggerJ at 9:41 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I cant seem to get it to work using my Chromebook... am I missing something?
posted by Sprocket at 11:12 PM on April 24, 2014


I've always found it bizarrely ironic that the internet has mostly decided that the best way to get someone to read something is to type it out and then post a photograph of your words.

I've been befuddled by this for years, but i think while reading this i just thought of the answer.

On all social media sites that don't let you chose font, or more importantly point size... it allows you to post large eye grabbing text.

I think it's more about that than anything, especially on tumblr and such where images of just text happen quite a bit.
posted by emptythought at 12:36 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


But tumblr does let you format your text with html.
posted by soelo at 5:14 AM on April 25, 2014


But tumblr does let you format your text with html.

This is a sore point in modern computing - the tools available to format online text are universally terrible. HTML and CSS are awful and impenetrable to the average user. Even experts turn to stuff like markdown, because tags are stupid and evil - but in the end, non-WYSIWYG editing is a non-starter to the typical web user.

Image editing apps are much easier to figure out and tinker with. It's the failure of the modern web that the power of modern browsers is inaccessible to non-experts.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:47 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


OneNote had this technology, and as I mention in ALL MY TRAINING on it - one of the most underused and undervalued things in Office.

To copy text quickly off any page, doesn't matter if right click is blocked: Windows key+S to select the area of screen to screenshot, send to unfiled notes, right click and "copy text from picture". If you're used to the shortcuts, this takes like 5 seconds.

This isn't old news, I'm glad another tool is coming, but the technology at "any user" accessible level has been available for at least 2 years - as this becomes more standard within other tools beyond Chrome and OneNote it'll get even better.

And OneNote indexes hand writing too, pretty much instantly, so it really IS a matter of time.
posted by olya at 10:43 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Really cool -- I installed the extension yesterday, but can't figure out how to make it "go" -- the right-click pop-up window doesn't offer any new options. I know this ain't the Green, but uh...does anyone know how to make it work?
posted by davidmsc at 11:15 AM on April 25, 2014


Google Glass + Project Naptha + GoogleTranslate = Realtime translation of signs/texts in front of you.

MARRY AND REPRODUCE.
posted by dhartung at 11:33 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


So far I've not gotten even one decent transcription, even from perfectly even printed text. Oh well. But fwiw, you can get to Google Books pages by (among other ways) right-clicking Inspect Element → Resources → Images and then finding the one of the appropriate page. If you open it in a new tab you can select the text and copy it.

Or try to. Like I said, doesn't seem to actually work yet.
posted by zbsachs at 2:00 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


does anyone know how to make it work?

It's really finicky. Take a pretty straightforward image with text (like a meme) and hover over the text. It's working if the cursor changes from a pointer arrow to a text-type cursor. You may have to move back and forth a bit to get it. Try staying inside the text as it won't change if you're on the edge.
posted by yerfatma at 3:40 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


HEY CHROME! An Amiga extension did this, system-wide, back in the early 90s.

You can get back to making other old forgotten things new again. Cheersbye.
posted by davemee at 3:12 AM on April 27, 2014


Speaking of Word Lens, Google just bought the company that makes it.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:19 PM on May 16, 2014


Cool! Yeah, lolcats transcription might become a killer app for Chrome.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:57 AM on May 17, 2014


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