Draw Something Solver – A Working OCR System

I’ve already mentioned about my first OCR attempt for my Draw Something Solver, and the disappointing results.

I said the letters did not appear to be consistant, this turned out to be on my iPhone 4S, the spacing of the letters is not consistant, there are a few pixels difference between the letters on the left and those on the right. Once I had discovered this, the letters matched.

However, taking this approach meant only images taken from a retina enabled iPhone would work, those from a lower resolution screen would not match. I would need to take screenshots of every letter on every device at every resolution to be consistant. Not a very good idea.

My next approach was to scale to image down to a common size using an HTML5 canvas, that didn’t produce consistant results. I tried to grayscale, and to turn to black and white, but although close, they were still too different.

My final approach, and one that seems to work for now is to still scale and turn the images to black and white, but instead of hashing this result, I am instead doing some pixel comparison and generating probabilities of matching a letter. This is a simple neural network. I have trained it with all the letters from my iPhone 4S so that runs consistantly each time. When I ran against images from an iPhone 3GS, not all images matched, letters like “I” and “J” caused confusion, so where a match was wrong I added some extra training data for those letters so they all now match. I have yet to try images from an iPad as I don’t have one, but I hope they will match first time without further training.