Those who struggle to sketch anything with a pencil will agree that drawing with a finger on a smartphone is useless. But research is changing that.
researchers have resolved what they call, the “fat finger” problem with a crowdsourced solution that subtly corrects the digital strokes and improves picture quality. To accomplish this, they first created a mobile game, DrawAFriend
, and began collecting thousands of smartphone generated images.
Creating a mobile game app allowed us to generate a massive database for large-scale analysis of human drawings, says Adrien Treuille, associate professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon.
DrawAFriend requires players to sketch and guess friends and celebrity profiles like Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie. In its first week, the game generated 1,500 sketches a day, subsequently collecting more than 17,000 images.
The images contained important, stroke-by-stroke information about how each was created. The scientific goal was to automatically correct a person’s drawing strokes while preserving their artistic integrity, making it “invisible to the user, so people wouldn’t even be aware the correction is taking place,” says Alex Limpaecher, a doctorate student in CMU’s Computer Science Department.
“The point is you feel like it is your drawing, just slightly corrected. Every time you put your finger on the screen, there’s a slight ambiguity in what you want to do. We chose to resolve that ambiguity in the most beautiful way,” says Treuille. “It’s a magical thing.”
While the solution has obvious implications for gaming, the bigger picture is even more intriguing. For one, scientists are learning how to better and more creatively collect massive data sets. Everything in life comes down to nudging ourselves toward greater perfection, says Treuille. Imagine parking a car that makes minute corrections to perfectly guide it into a space.
Limpaecher presented the team’s findings this week at SIGGRAPH 2013
, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, in Anaheim, Calif. a preliminary exhibition of some of the world’s greatest emerging innovations.
In addition to Treuille and Limpaecher, the other team members were Nicholas Feltman, a Ph.D. student in computer science, and Michael Cohen, principal researcher in Microsoft Research’s Interactive Visual Media Group.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Adrien Treuille, Alex Limpaecher, CMU
In case you're wondering, the DrawAFriend sketch is Angelina Jolie