Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doodle Search: New Software Can Hunt Through Online Catalogs Using Only A Sketch

Date:
March 12, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Working with support from the National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Imaginestics, a company located in West Lafayette, Ind., has created 3D-Seek: a new kind of search engine that lets users find items in an online catalog without ever needing to know the items' names, part numbers or keywords.

Unlike other part searches, the 3D-Seek software rapidly locates objects with only a few quick steps, as shown in this illustration.
Credit: Imaginestics, LLC

Working with support from the National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Imaginestics, a company located in West Lafayette, Ind., has created 3D-Seek: a new kind of search engine that lets users find items in an online catalog without ever needing to know the items' names, part numbers or keywords.

Thanks to a major advance in practical pattern recognition, all the user needs is a freehand sketch--a doodle.

The Purdue Research Park-based company developed 3D-Seek and its associated catalog mainly for manufacturing firms, which are constantly looking for hinges, bolts, conveyor belts, motors and a host of other products. For those firms, notes Errol Arkilic, the NSF officer overseeing the SBIR awards, "this search engine can help find the proverbial needle in the haystack. By allowing manufacturers to re-deploy and re-purpose parts from existing catalogs, the tool can make it easier for businesses to design complex mechanical systems."

Eventually, however, the basic search engine could prove equally useful for ordinary shoppers: instead of having to go to the hardware store lugging, say, a specific plumbing joint, a customer could just sketch what he or she needed to find an exact match.

The 3D-Seek software was built on top of technology created by Karthik Ramani and his colleagues at the NSF-supported Purdue Research and Education Center for Information Systems in Engineering (PRECISE) at Purdue University. Ramani, who is an NSF CAREER Awardee, the director of PRECISE and the chief scientist of Imaginestics, had led the way toward search algorithms that ranked among the world's fastest for a certain application: comparing the computer-aided design files and other 3-D images that are ubiquitous in industry.

From there, further collaboration between university and company researchers resulted in a system that required only critical shape characteristics, not entire image files. This allowed even faster search speeds and protected the proprietary information held by parts suppliers loading their products to the online database. And as a bonus, the refined search could now glean important information from quick sketches, a favorite means of communication for engineers and designers.

The public can try the freehand-search online at the 3D-Seek portal.

"In order to make such a search engine commercially viable we had to overcome the challenge of matching something as rudimentary as a doodle to a 3-D object - in seconds," said Nainesh Rathod, co-founder and President of Imaginestics. "This is important, as Web users have become accustomed to retrieving information instantaneously. Our shape-search engine processes data that are far more complex then those handled by the leading Internet search engines, and yet still finds results quickly."

While researchers have been working for several years on software that can compare industry-standard 3-D image files to each other, the new method is faster than most and permits search "terms" that are far outside the norm. With the new tool, users can find in seconds what once took weeks of warehouse searches or even a complete part redesign.

"It's the difference between describing a part over the phone and seeing it in person," added Rathod. "You can look at it visually instead of explaining it in words."

The 3D-Seek catalog currently contains more than 6,000 parts and continues to grow as suppliers manually upload their files or as the system's i-crawler web spider discovers parts online. A related technology, i-prowler, hunts for image files on a user's computer and merges them with either the online database or an internal company catalog - critical for large companies that may not have simple mechanisms to search internal inventories.

Even global corporations can have difficulty tracking supplies internally. According to Rathod, a Fortune 100 manufacturer recently estimated that lack of a proper search technology resulted in duplicate purchases for 10 to 16 percent of parts.

One reason is that factories creating the same product, yet located continents apart, will go to different suppliers for the same component. Those suppliers may have to independently engineer the components from scratch, which can be costly. With an easily searchable company-wide database, even metric conversion would not stand in the way of a part search.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Doodle Search: New Software Can Hunt Through Online Catalogs Using Only A Sketch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308210952.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, March 12). Doodle Search: New Software Can Hunt Through Online Catalogs Using Only A Sketch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308210952.htm
National Science Foundation. "Doodle Search: New Software Can Hunt Through Online Catalogs Using Only A Sketch." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308210952.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) U.S. firms worry they’re falling behind in the marketplace as the FAA considers how to regulate commercial drones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
iPhone 6 Sales Mark Yet Another Year Of Records, Glitches

iPhone 6 Sales Mark Yet Another Year Of Records, Glitches

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) Customers looking to preorder the iPhone 6 on Friday experienced a few hiccups thanks to record demand for the device overnight. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Photo-Sharing App Tiiny Really A Snapchat Competitor?

Is Photo-Sharing App Tiiny Really A Snapchat Competitor?

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) Tiiny, a photo-sharing app, is being called a Snapchat competitor. But after testing it ourselves, we'd have to disagree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Batters Sierra Leone Economy Too

Ebola Batters Sierra Leone Economy Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 12, 2014) The World Health Organisation warns that local health workers in West Africa can't keep up with Ebola - and among those countries hardest hit by the outbreak, the economic damage is coming into focus, too. As David Pollard reports, Sierra Leone admits that growth in one of the poorest economies in the region is taking a beating. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins