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Search The Web Using Sketches

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-04-08

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Software firm Imaginestics has licensed a new search technology that allows you to use a sketch as a "keyword" to search the web. Developed at Purdue University, the software allows users to search millions of database entries based on 3 dimensional objects.

Mechanical engineer Karthik Ramani, told UPI, "it's like a special kind of Google that lets you search for parts based on their three-dimensional shapes."

The software was designed with the engineering field in mind. This will give engineers the ability to search for parts that they may not know the name of, or where it was ordered.

"Just a single commercial airliner has more than a million unique parts", said Ramani. "Such a search method could save millions of dollars annually by making it unnecessary to design parts anew and enabling you to mine for other knowledge, such as past decisions regarding costs and design advice about the part."

The idea behind the software is that researchers will take a 3-D model of the part the wish to query. The software then converts these models to voxels, the 3-D equivalent of pixels.

The program converts the voxels to a skeleton that mimics the shape. Users can fine-tune the skeleton, and use images that resemble the object during the process.

Ramani believes that this technology will significantly help engineers in the process of searching for parts.

"The shape search system will allow engineers to cut this time down by as much as 80 percent," he said. " In addition, such a system could also provide access to valuable background about how the part was made, including details about safety testing or its machining and casting, which in turn provides data on how much it costs to make the part."

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