Recognizing Address Blocks on Mail Pieces: Specialized Tools and Problem-Solving Architecture
An important task in postal automation technology is determining the position and orientation of the destination address block in the image of a mail piece such as a letter, magazine, or parcel. The corresponding subimage is then presented to a human operator or a machine reader (optical character reader) that can read the zip code and, if necessary, other address information and direct the mail piece to the appropriate sorting bin. Analysis of physical characteristics of mail pieces indicates that in order to automate the address finding task, several different image analysis operations are necessary. Some examples are locating a rectangular white address label on a multicolor background, progressively grouping characters into text lines and text lines into text blocks, eliminating candidate regions by specialized detectors (for example, detecting regions such as postage stamps), and identifying handwritten regions. Described here are several operations, their utility as predicted by statistics of mail piece characteristics, and the results of applying the operations to a task set of mail piece images. A problem-solving architecture based on the blackboard model of problem solving for appropriately invoking the tools and combining their results is described.
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