Text is normally trapped inside images. With the Project Naptha Chrome extension, you can select, copy, and edit that text with just a few clicks. It’s a quick way to copy important text from images or make your own meme. The extension uses advanced computer imaging technology — but, as a user, it feels a bit like magic.
How Does It Work?
There are multiple forms of text on the web. There’s standard text that you can copy and paste into other documents. You can use a bookmarklet or other tool to easily modify the text that appears on web pages all you like. Text in images is different. To a computer, the text in images isn’t really text — it’s just another part of the image. That’s why you can’t just easily erase or edit text in images.
Project Naptha is a Chrome extension made by Kevin Kwok. It detects the text in images so you can select, copy, and edit it. This extension will even allow you to press Ctrl+F and search inside images on the current page, but that feature is currently experimental.
This project uses the same sort of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology that services like Google Drive and Microsoft OneNote use to analyze the text inside images and make it searchable. That said, Project Naptha doesn’t use traditional OCR. Instead, it uses Stroke Width Transform, which was invented by Microsoft Research in 2008. This is a bit demanding, so the extension predicts where your mouse is moving and runs the algorithm to recognize text when your cursor moves toward an image. The “inpainting” technique allows the extension to automatically fill in parts of the image when you remove or alter text, sort of like how Adobe Photoshop’s content-aware fill works.
The image processing happens mostly on your computer by default, but you can also have the images uploaded to Google’s Tesseract OCR engine for improved accuracy.
Selecting and Modifying Text in Images
Install Project Naptha from the Chrome Web Store. Next, locate an image with text inside it in your web browser and mouse over it. You’ll be able to select text inside the image just as if that text were on a web page. You can right-click to copy your text to the clipboard.
The option that lets you modify text is a bit hidden. You’ll need to select text in an image, right-click that text, point to Translate, and select Modify Text. Type your new text for the image into the box that appears. Select the Erase Text option here if you’d rather just remove text from the image entirely.
You’ll see multiple “Enter Text” boxes if the image has multiple regions of text you can edit. The result obviously won’t be perfect — the font won’t match exactly, for one thing. If text is removed from a more complex background, you may see a few graphical artifacts appear.
Tweaking Project Naptha
Project Naptha is an alternative to meme generator sites, allowing you to quickly modify any meme you come across before sharing it with other people. If you’d like to use Project Naptha to edit images on your computer, you’ll need to visit Chrome’s Extensions page and enable the “Allow access to file URLs” option for Project Naptha. Drag and drop the image files from your hard drive into a Chrome tab and you can then edit them.
You can also control which text-recognition engine the extension uses and adjust other options. Right-click text in an image and you’ll see all the options you can configure with this extension.
Project Naptha isn’t magic — it’s just a sophisticated, easy-to-use implementation of some advanced text-recognition and image-modification techniques. If technology like this were integrated in browsers in the future, it could make images more interactive and easily searchable everywhere.
Have you tried using Project Naptha? Do you prefer it to using traditional meme-generation methods? What else could it be useful for? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: hand with a pincer Via Shutterstock