Object identification is one of the major challenges facing computer programmers today. The robots of the future must be able to recognize even the smallest changes in the world around them and react accordingly. A great place to start developing such technology is in sketches.
Researchers at Brown and the Technical University of Berlin have created a computer program that can correctly identify what a person is drawing in real time. The team created 20,000 unique sketches over 250 object categories and found that humans can correctly identify the object categorie 73 percent of the time. While not as good as humans, the AI was able to correctly identify the sketches with 56 percent accuracy.
It sounds kind of goofy, but just watch the video below. It's amazing to see the program being able to guess a sketch in real time while it's still being drawn. It's even more amazing that the program gets it right for the majority of drawings. It can even change its guess if the drawing is partially erased and changed to something else entirely.
The project was mostly intended to show how sketches and drawings are perhaps the most universal form of communication. We as humans are able to make out what something is, even if we haven't seen it in person, by just looking at the sketch of an object. Being able to identify an object based only on a crude drawing is a huge advancement in machine learning.
The researchers were awesome enough to release a demo of their software for Windows, Mac and iOS. You can download the iOS app from the App Store right now. The Windows and Mac apps are available on the project's Web site. You can also find the entire set of 20,000 sketches they used in the research.