Sometimes we want to type in characters not found on regular keyboards. Windows, Linux and other operating systems compensate for this using the Unicode characters which cover almost all the symbols found in all the known languages and more. But here is the tricky part about Unicode – do you remember the hexadecimal code for the symbols you want to type? Of course, you can go through the Unicode charts and waste many hours in the fun. But if you are in hurry, then you can try ShapeCatcher.
ShapeCatcher is a free online service that allows you to draw your symbol and then lookup all the possible Unicode characters. Yes, its that easy. Just sketch your symbol’s shape and it would find all the Unicode characters that look similar to it. Currently about 10,000 of the most important Unicode characters are compared to your sketch and are analysed for similarities.
Using ShapeCatcher online service is very easy. Basically, all you have to do is to visit the ShapeCatcher web site. Then draw the symbol you want to look up in the given drawbox. You can reset the drawbox if you draw incorrectly and start all over again. When you have sketched a perfect looking symbol, then just click on the Recognize link at the bottom of te drawbox. And you would see a list of similar looking Unicode characters with full details.
Under the hood, Shapecatcher uses so called “shape contexts” to find similarities between two shapes. Shape contexts, a robust mathematical way of describing the concept of similarity between shapes, is a feature descriptor first proposed by Serge Belongie and Jitendra Malik.
So if you are clueless about a symbol’s Unicode code and are tired of looking it up in the Unicode list charts, then give ShapeCatcher a try. For all you know, it may find your symbols quickly without any pain. You can visit ShapeCatcher website at http://shapecatcher.com/.