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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Image-to-Text Could Be Used in Google Street View

Google Street View’s photo data could be used for more than just plain showing it to users. Internally, Google could do some image analysis – like OCR, optical character recognition, to convert text contained in the images of the houses, shops and so on to text. Such text could be utilized for several things:

Besides OCR, Google could also analyze non-textual objects in their images. While that may may be tough to do we need to keep in mind they already successfully manage to determine faces (in order to blur them, due to privacy concerns). One thing that should thus be solvable would be, for instance, to count the people in a street to roughly see how busy an area is. What other information do you think could be mined out of Google Street View imagery in the future?

[Image from Google Street View, Tokyo, with contrast adjusted.]


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