Computer Learns to Recognize Rough Sketches

Computer Learns to Recognize Rough Sketches

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A new algorithm developed at Brown University and the Technical University of Berlin is the first computer application designed for “semantic understanding” of abstract drawings, and the research team says it could improve search applications and sketch-based interfaces. Someday, building on this research and other line-drawing computer recognition, you might be able to finger-draw something on your iPhone and turn up a real answer.

The program can identify simple abstract sketches 56% of the time, compared to humans’ 73% average. Even those sorely lacking in verisimilitude can be detected, which is the key breakthrough here. Computers can already recognize accurate sketches, like a police sketch of a suspect compared to photos of a face, for example. But for the type of abstract sketches we all grow up with, it’s a different challenge.

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