UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Design and construction of an opaque optical contour tracer for character recognition research Austin, George Marshall


This thesis describes the design and instrumentation of an opaque contour-tracing scanner for studies in optical character recognition (OCR). Most previous OCR machines have attempted to recognize characters by mask matching, a technique which requires a large and expensive computer, and which is sensitive to small changes in type font. Contour tracing is a promising new approach to OCR. In contour tracing, the outside of the character is followed, and the resulting horizontal and vertical co-ordinates, X(t) and Y(t), of the scanning spot are processed for recognition. Although much additional research is required on both scanner design and processing algorithms, it is expected that an OCR device which uses a contour-tracing scanner will be significantly less expensive than existing multifont recognition machines. In this thesis, four possible contour-tracing scanners are proposed and evaluated on the basis of cost, complexity and availability of components. The design that was chosen for construction used an X-Y oscilloscope and a photomultiplier as a flying-spot scanner. In instrumenting this design, a digital-to-analogue converter, an up-down counter and many other special purpose logic circuits were designed and constructed. The scanner successfully contour traced Letraset characters, typewritten characters and handprinted characters. At the machines maximum speed, a character is completely traced in approximately 10 msec. Photographs of contour traces and the X(t) and Y(t) waveforms are included in the thesis. Although the present system will only trace two adjacent characters, proposed modifications to the system would enable an entire line of characters to be contour-traced. Included in the thesis are recommendations for further research on scanner design.

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