Playing Pictionary with a Computer? reports that, "Researchers from Brown University and the Technical University of Berlin have developed a computer program that can recognize sketches as they're drawn in real time. It's the first computer application that enables 'semantic understanding' of abstract sketches, the researchers say. The advance could clear the way for vastly improved sketch-based interface and search applications. The research behind the program was presented last month at SIGGRAPH, the world's premier computer graphics conference. The paper is now available online, together with a video, a library of sample sketches, and other materials."

The article goes on, "Computers are already pretty good at matching sketches to objects as long as the sketches are accurate representations. For example, applications have been developed that can match police sketches to actual faces in mug shots. But iconic or abstract sketches—the kind that most people are able to easily produce—are another matter entirely. For example, if you were asked to sketch a rabbit, you might draw a cartoony-looking thing with big ears, buckteeth, and a cotton tail. Another person probably wouldn't have much trouble recognizing your funny bunny as a rabbit—despite the fact that it doesn't look all that much like a real rabbit."

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