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 October 22, 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 October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — New photo-recognition software from MicroBlink, called PhotoMath, solves linear equations and simple math problems with step-by-step results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rate Hike Worries Down on Inflation Data

Rate Hike Worries Down on Inflation Data

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inflation remains well under control according to the latest consumer price index, giving the Federal Reserve more room to keep interest rates low for awhile. Bobbi Rebell reports. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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