The standard approach to recognizing text in images consists in first classifying local image regions into candidate characters and then combining them with high-level word models such as conditional random fields (CRF). This paper explores a new paradigm that departs from this bottom-up view. We propose to embed word labels and word images into a common Euclidean space. Given a word image to be recognized, the text recognition problem is cast as one of retrieval: find the closest word label in this space. This common space is learned using the Structured SVM (SSVM) framework by enforcing matching label-image pairs to be closer than non-matching pairs. This method presents the following advantages: it does not require costly pre- or post-processing operations, it allows for the recognition of never-seen-before words and the recognition process is efficient. Experiments are performed on two challenging datasets (one of license plates and one of scene text) and show that the proposed method is competitive with standard bottom-up approaches to text recognition.
Full paper available on BMVC Website