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We propose a low complexity method for sign detection and text localization in natural images. This method is designed for mobile applications (e.g., unmanned or handheld devices) in which computational and energy resources are limited. No prior assumption is made regarding the text size, font, language, or character set. However, the text is assumed to be located on a homogeneous background using a contrasting color. We have deployed our method on a Nokia N800 cellular phone as part of a system for automatic detection and translation of outdoor signs. This handheld device is equipped with a 0.3-megapixel camera capable of acquiring images of outdoor signs that typically contain enough details for the sign to be readable by a human viewer. Our experiments show that the text of these images can be accurately localized within the device in a fraction of a second.