Amazing algorithms that can sketch and recreate 3-D shapes

Posted Aug 12, 2017 by Tim Sandle
A computer scientist from the University of British Columbia has developed a type of new software that can design a sketch of an everyday object, overcoming the challenge of accurately describing shapes.
At Ubisoft s Montreal studio
A designer hard at work a Ubisoft's Montreal office
Courtesy Ubisoft
Designers and technologists, from big corporations to start-ups, will be interested in improvements to computer aided drawing. Accurate depictions of everything from everyday objects to complex medical devices are necessary if new products are to be designed to a good standard.
The new software for accurately describing shapes is called FlowRep and it was developed by a computer scientist called Professor Alla Sheffer. The academic developed the program by working with Adobe Research and also with fellow technologists based at the Washington University in St. Louis.
Discussing the problem together with the the solution, Professor Sheffer said in an interview published on the University of British Columbia website: “If you try to explain what your computer mouse looks like to someone who has never seen a mouse before, you're going to struggle to verbally describe its shape.” She also adds: “Humans are good at verbally describing colour or dimensions, but cannot easily articulate geometric properties. The easiest way to describe shapes is to sketch them.”
The new software was unveiled at the SIGGRAPH 2017 computer graphics and interactive techniques conference, which took place during August 2017 in Los Angeles. The 44th conference saw five days of research breakthroughs, alternative realities, advanced training, digital-media demonstrations, human-computer interaction, creative collaboration, and the unveiling of what’s described as “tomorrow's technologies.”
To develop the program, Professor Sheffer took insights garnered from Gestalt psychology. This area of psychological science seeks to explain how people interpret visual content and understand depth from two-dimensional drawings. Based on this the algorithms developed helped to turn diverse shapes like airplanes, cars, coffee makers and mugs into sketches. Through these images the program provided answers about which surface curves need to be traced in order that human observers can imagine the shape. This was undertaken using specialist algorithms
The outcome is that the sketches and 3D curves produced by the algorithm are considered comparable to those produced by professional designers. You can judge for yourself with the following video:
The next step is to build on the algorithm to strengthen the visualization of natural shapes.