Reading Digits in Natural Images with Unsupervised Feature Learning
Computer Vision Central - Posted on December 20, 2011 at 1:04 am.
Detecting and reading text from natural images is a hard computer vision task that is central to a variety of emerging applications. Related problems like document character recognition have been widely studied by computer vision and machine learning researchers and are virtually solved for practical applications like reading handwritten digits. Reliably recognizing characters in more complex scenes like photographs, however, is far more difﬁcult: the best existing methods lag well behind human performance on the same tasks. In this paper we attack the problem of recognizing digits in a real application using unsupervised feature learning methods: reading house numbers from street level photos. To this end, we introduce a new benchmark dataset for research use containing over 600,000 labeled digits cropped from Street View images. We then demonstrate the difﬁculty of recognizing these digits when the problem is approached with hand-designed features. Finally, we employ variants of two recently proposed unsupervised feature learning methods and ﬁnd that they are convincingly superior on our benchmarks.