British scientists have designed a computer program that could help consumers shop more efficiently online by recognizing sketches. Pioneered by scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the program recognizes a sketch — like sketches of a pair of shoes or piece of furniture – which are drawn directly by hand on a touch-screen using a sophisticated image retrieval system. The top 10 retrieval accuracy is close to 100 percent on some object categories so that it always displays the desired product on the first page.
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"What is great about our system is that the user does not have to be an artist for the sketch to be accurate, yet is able to retrieve images in a more precise manner than text," said co-developer Dr Yi-Zhe Song. "With the proliferation of touch-screens, sketching had become a much easier to do and in some ways is actually preferable to text-based or photo searches," Yi-Zhe, who is also Director of the SketchX Research Lab at QMUL, added.
According to the research, fine-grained sketch-based image retrieval (SBIR) overcomes problems with using words to describe visual objects in words. This computer program system is designed to emulate the human brain's processing through arrays of simulated neurons. It was trained to match sketches to photos based on about 30,000 sketch-photo comparisons, learning how to interpret salient details of photos and how people try to depict them in hand-drawing. The research, accepted at International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), would be presented next week.
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