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With the increasing popularity of practical vision systems and smart phones, text detection in natural scenes becomes a critical yet challenging task. Most existing methods have focused on detecting horizontal or near-horizontal texts. In this paper, we propose a system which detects texts of arbitrary orientations in natural images. Our algorithm is equipped with a two-level classification scheme and two sets of features specially designed for capturing both the intrinsic characteristics of texts. To better evaluate our algorithm and compare it with other competing algorithms, we generate a new dataset, which includes various texts in diverse real-world scenarios; we also propose a protocol for performance evaluation. Experiments on benchmark datasets and the proposed dataset demonstrate that our algorithm compares favorably with the state-of-the-art algorithms when handling horizontal texts and achieves significantly enhanced performance on texts of arbitrary orientations in complex natural scenes.