Using Sketches to Search for Products Online

Sometimes drawing a quick sketch is easier than using text to describe a particular product you have in mind. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London created a tool that recognizes hand-drawn sketches on a smartphone or tablet and uses them to search for products online.

Using two Tesla K80 GPUs and the cuDNN-accelerated Caffe deep learning framework to train their convolutional neural network, their new “Sketch” recognition system achieved 97.94% accuracy in matching shoes and chairs. They also have a demo on their project website that matches forensic sketches with mugshots.

“Sketch is a very flexible tool,” co-developer Yi-Zhe Song said. “For example, you might see a pair of shoes that you like, but not approve of every detail of them — such as the buckle or the heel. In that case, you can draw the shoe you would like to see — and then let the computer search for the closest possible match.”

Sketch searching

The researchers are talking with online retailers and hope their technology will be used in the online marketplace within six months.

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