Urdu signboard detection and recognition using deep learning

Syed Yasser Arafat*, Nabeel Ashraf, Muhammad Javed Iqbal, Iftikhar Ahmad, Suleman Khan, Joel J.P.C. Rodrigues

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Signboard detection and recognition is an important task in automated context-aware marketing. Recently many scripting languages like Latin, Japanese, and Chinese have been effectively detected by several machine learning algorithms. As compared to other languages, outdoor Urdu text needs further attention in detection and recognition due to its cursive nature. Urdu detection and recognition are also difficult due to a wide variety of illuminations, low resolution, inconsistent font styles, color, and backgrounds. To overcome the deficiency of Urdu text detection from the outdoor environment, we have proposed a new Urdu-text signboard dataset with 467 ligature categories, containing a 30 + K images for recognition and 700 base images with annotation are created for detection. We also propose a methodology, that consists of 3-phases. In first phase text regions containing Urdu ligatures from shop-signboard images are detected by a faster regional convolutional neural network (FasterRCNN) using pre-trained CNNs like Alexnet and Vgg16. In the second phase detected regions from the first phase are clustered to identify unique ligatures in a dataset. Lastly in the third phase, all detected regions are recognized by 18-layer convolutional neural network trained model. The proposed system has successfully achieved the precision and recall of 87% and 96% respectively using vgg16 model for detection. For the classification of ligatures, a recognition rate of 97.50% is achieved. Recognition of ligatures was also evaluated using bilingual evaluation understudy (BLEU), and achieved an encouraging score of 0.96 on the newly developed Urdu-Signboard dataset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11965-11987
Number of pages23
JournalMultimedia Tools and Applications
Issue number9
Early online date6 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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