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Google Using ReCAPTCHA to Decode Street Signs

If you've recently seen photographs show up on Google's ReCAPTCHA authentication feature and wondered what was going on, Google has finally provided an answer for you. TechCrunch report that Google has confirmed that it is crowd sourcing its efforts to improve Street View by having users decipher characters in Street View photos.

"We’re currently running an experiment in which characters from Street View images are appearing in CAPTCHAs," Google said in a statement to TechCrunch. "We often extract data such as street names and traffic signs from Street View imagery to improve Google Maps with useful information like business addresses and locations."

The original use for ReCAPTCHA, a Carnegie Mellon project acquired by Google three years ago, was to help fight spam while also crowd sourcing the task of digitizing books and other content. This new project from Google just uses ReCAPTCHA in a different way. However, though improving Street View is the goal for this experiment, that's not all Google is looking to achieve. According to the search giant, the experiment will also help the company determine whether or not using imagery is an effective way to refine their bot-fighting tools.

Google didn't detail just how widespread the experiment is, or how long it will go on for, but Google says it launched the experiment a couple of weeks ago and that it includes street addresses and numbers, street names, and traffic signs.

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Image Credit: BlackHat User 'Dirtbag'