I recently ( after around 3 years ) started reading “printed” books again. The reason for which I will not get into. For the last 3 years my reading was confined to my Kindle which made reading a joy with its portability and all the tools that accompany an ebook ( dictionary, highlighting, etc ). Being an avid reader and often reading books outside my core competency, especially classics I found myself reaching for my phone , opening the dictionary app and typing in the word to learn it’s meaning far too often. There had to be a better way to do this. Well now there is.
I am inherently lazy. I very strongly believe that the reason I got interested in computer science was because it gave me the ability to not move much and a good excuse for the same. So the constant “struggle” to pick up my phone and tap multiple times to find the meaning of a word really bugged me. Why can’t we just point our phone at the book , tap the word and get the meaning.
Text recognition is being used in a multitude of fields. I was sure that someone must have made something to solve my mundane problem. I looked on the iOS app store and there were a couple of apps that did sort of the thing that I was looking for. After using them for sometime I found that they were not that accurate, did too many things and just took the joy out of reading. It was then that I decided to build Lookie.
OCR is not new. It has been done before and it has been done well ( at times, I am looking at you Google ). In fact I found that OCR was the easy part of the app. It is fairly easy to recognise text if all the conditions ( light, angle) are perfect. But are they ever? Pre processing the image was the part where I spent most of my time. The release of app was mostly a struggle between making it more accurate or realising it where it worked most of the times and had a few misses here and there.
Once it became good enough that I was using it fairly regularly and had ditched the dictionary app altogether I submitted it for review to the iOS App store. It was reviewed and accepted in 9 hours ( kudos to Apple for upping its game ) and is live now. A part of me thought that I should have waited, I should have added more features, no one really needs another dictionary but the bookworm in me loves using it now whenever I pick up a book.
Going forward I will be adding a few more features that I, as a born again printed book lover, would love to use. For now it is available on the iOS app store for free. You can give it a go here. If you like it then drop me a message, if there is something that bugs you or there is something that you would like to see added to the app then also drop me a message. I would love to evolve it into your go to reading companion.