Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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optical grep

Where does it say that?
  (+40, -2)(+40, -2)(+40, -2)
(+40, -2)
  [vote for,

(Grep: Unix command line tool that searches for words in text.)

A handheld unit containing:
(1) A camera with an OCR system.
(2) A microphone with a natural language parser.
(3) A laser pointer, directed by a small mirror.
(4) A gyroscopic stabilizer. (Or an optical one, as egnor suggests.)

You hold the unit in front of a big and confusing map (I got the idea while looking at one of Lumeta's Internet Maps), say a word, and the unit points to the word with its laser pointer.

I don't think we can OCR that well yet; but once we can, since the number of ocr'ed words limits the vocabulary the natural language parser must recognize, this looks *almost* doable.

jutta, Dec 02 2000

(?) Optical Correlator http://www.opticalc...ical_correlator.htm
[hippo, Dec 02 2000]

Fourier goggles http://www.halfbake...a/Fourier_20goggles
[hippo, Dec 02 2000]

Library of Congress Search http://catalog.loc.gov/
In some way, shape or form, all 121 million items are on net [thumbwax, Mar 27 2002]

Optical Transforms of the Alphabet http://scitation.ai...type=cvips&gifs=yes
A place to start... [csea, Aug 06 2009]

Sikuli http://sikuli.org/
Another place to start... [not_only_but_also, Aug 01 2010]


       Yes, yes. Adapt it to scan microfiche and microfilm.
reensure, Dec 02 2000

       Neat. Maybe use a small keyboard instead or as well to get around possible problems with language recognition like multiple-language and dialect support.   

       Hook it up to a mechanical page-turner to do book searches (tiny portable unit docks to huge, ugly home unit?), provide other output, support advanced searches (even regular expressions, if you like), and make it available in a waterproof teal version.   

       Wait, I think they call what I described a 'scanner' and a 'PC'. Maybe the only new thing above is a teal page-turner.
Monkfish, Dec 02 2000, last modified Dec 03 2000

       The camera would need to have very good resolution, or else have the ability to quickly pan and zoom around the entire map. You'd probably want to re-use the mirror you use to steer the laser.   

       You can probably ditch the gyroscopic stabilizer and use optical stabilization. Just watch the image, and keep the laser pointing at the word.   

       I think voice recognition is going to be the problem, not OCR. As far as I can tell, OCR basically works but voice recognition basically doesn't. (So use a keyboard or scribble pad or something, as Monkfish suggests.)
egnor, Dec 03 2000

       Possible problem: what if the map or whatever contains multiple instances of the searched-for word? I'm sure there's a way to deal with this more intellegently than to pulse your laser pointer back and forth rapidly between all occuances. Ideas?   

       <<added later>> Hippo mentioned below using the fourier transforms of an image. Conceptually, what is that? I know about a fourier transform of a waveform, but I am confused as to how it can be extended to 2 or 3 dimensions. I ask simply for my own elucidation.
badoingdoing, Dec 03 2000, last modified Dec 07 2000

       I think bouncing back and forth between all occurrences is just fine.
jutta, Dec 03 2000

       If it bounces fast enough, you will see multiple spots, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. Or it could have a "next" button.
egnor, Dec 03 2000

       Optical Correlation is fascinating (and what I did for my final year degree project). Basically you correlate the Fourier Transform of the target with the Fourier Transform of the image - this allows you to match multiple occurences of the target at any point or scale in the image. See link.
hippo, Dec 04 2000

       If this was installed at the library, you provide the page turner and the search instruction.
reensure, Dec 06 2000

       I forsee problems with pronunciation. If you're looking at a foreign map, how do you know how the names of places are pronounced? In much of eastern europe they seem to have left out most of the vowels and in parts of Africa there are far too many.
Gordon Comstock, Dec 21 2000

       Why bother with the laser pointer?   

       While I admit the coolness factor is off the scale, a product like this might be more feasible in the short term as a snap-on attachment to a Palm device: in essence a snapon camera. You graffiti some text, the camera scans the image and the LCD displays the relative whereabouts.
softsign, Jan 15 2001

       I thought this meant a grep-type tool for searching images and video.   

       ogrep --find-in video.ogg --find "Apple"   

       above line would search video.ogg for frames, segments, audio with the word (text or spoken) "Apple" or pictures of an apple.
ironfroggy, Mar 26 2002

       ...just needed to add a bun to this for the visual effect...+ ;)
xandram, Nov 19 2008

       Can we OCR well enough yet?
david_scothern, Nov 19 2008

       great to detect speed limits on roads and warn drivers.
kamathln, Nov 20 2008

       Sounds like potential for an iPhone/iPod app. Sans the laser pointer, of course (would need to provide some kind of zoomable highlighted view on screen).
Martoon, Aug 02 2009

       Another possibility is to integrate this into an [insert your preferred fantastic large-screen type phone with camera on the other side of screen] app. Search for the word by analyzing the camera image and highlight the word on the screen.
toodles, Aug 07 2009

cowtamer, Aug 03 2010


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