Shiny Contest Submission: The OCR Handwriting Game


This application uses the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality from the tesseract package in order to create a little game testing your ability to draw letters on a computer screen! To interact with the canvas, simply click on a point somewhere on the canvas. As you move the mouse, the pen stroke will appear. Clicking again will complete the stroke.


There are two modes:

  • Free-Draw Mode - Here, the player can practice their drawing skills, and get used to the somewhat unusual input method! They can then submit and have their word read by the OCR algorithm.
  • Game-Mode - In this mode, a three or four letter word will be provided to the player. The player has a bit under 30 seconds to draw the word on the canvas and submit the result to see if the OCR algorithm recognizes the word.



RStudio Cloud:

Technical Details

The tesseract package contains an open source OCR engine. Utilizing the inputs available in Shiny, along with a blank plotting canvas, we’ve used the strokes detected on the blank plot as input to the OCR engine. From there, we used a simple dictionary plus a javascript-based timer in order to create a game mode out of it.

Caveats and Issues

  1. The RStudio Cloud server does not include the required system libraries to install the tesseract package. Therefore, this cannot be run directly on the cloud server at this time.
  2. The application performs more slowly on a hosted shiny server, including The performance is better while running locally. This is an area of improvement that we are looking towards for future iterations of the application.
  3. Sometimes, the game mode will briefly show a word before switching to a new word when switching from free draw to game mode.

My thoughts on your app:


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