As home automation starts to live up to its glossy sci-fi promise there remains a deficiency when it comes to interfacing between the newer computerised components and legacy items from a previous age. A frequent example that appears in projects on Hackaday is the reading of utility meters, and in that arena [Sascha Kloß] has a very neat solution involving an ESP32 camera module and a software neural network to identify meter readings directly.

The ESP and camera sit at the top of a 3D-printed housing that fits over the meter. The clever trick comes as each photo’s orientation is determined, and not only is OCR used to read digits but also figures are derived from small dial meters and other indicators on the meter face. It’s a very well-thought-out system, with a web-based configuration tool that allows full customisation of the readable zones and how they should be treated.

This project makes full use of the ESP32’s capabilities, and the attention to detail that has gone into making it usable is particularly impressive. It certainly raises the bar against previous OCR meter reading projects.