Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Smart Cameras

A new tool can decipher text in video.

Government and private surveillance companies have a new weapon. Software developed at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA, can identify words and numbers in moving video taken under difficult conditions. The software locates characters, extracts them from the background, and adjusts for lighting or angled views. Gregory Myers, program director at SRI, says the software could be used in applications ranging from video archiving to homeland security.

The software works by examining each frame of a video for sharp lines set against a contrasting background – telltale indicators of character strokes. Since text often persists over many frames, the software also looks for text similarity among frames to increase accuracy. If characters are warped or unclear, image-processing algorithms straighten them and even out their tone. The cleaned-up characters are then fed into optical character-recognition engines that convert them to machine-searchable text.

The company is working with government agencies that need to identify ships and vehicles from rough video; Myers expects that the software will soon be available for private consumer use as well.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.