Finding a Whatchamacallit on the Web
Reported April 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Whether you need a bolt, a motor, a belt or a tool, finding the perfect, hard-to-describe part can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But now, engineers have put together a computer program that can track down just about anything you need -- even if you don't know what it's called!
When it comes to making repairs, replacing parts or finding a tool, a new visual search engine can help you find exactly what you're looking. Created by mechanical engineers, VizSeek uses pattern recognition to take a doodle, sketch or photo and find out exactly what it is.
"Every, every part has a unique fingerprint, and we call it shape representation," Nainesh Rathod, CEO of Imaginestics in West Lafayette, Ind., -- the company who developed VizSeek, tells Ivanhoe.
VizSeek is one of the first search engines on the Internet to use a photograph, a 2-D image, or a 3-D model and transform it into a 3-D shape to match the part you're searching for. You can help narrow the search with additional information. For example, tell VizSeek it's a part for a motor and it will sort search results based on what it found from thousands of motors, bolts, hinges and belts cataloged in the system.
"There's so much data that you're processing, and you have to do it in a matter of seconds," Rathod says. "Waiting a minute's not gonna do it."
Right now, VizSeek is used for manufacturers to track down parts or find suppliers but in the near future, it could help anyone track down just about any part they need. Imaginestics also hopes to have stores catalog which parts they have. You would no longer have to take the part into the store and try and match it. Instead, you would just print out the barcode from your computer, take that in and have the salesperson find it for you.
You can access VizSeek for free by surfing to VizSeek.com.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
West Lafayette, IN
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Santa Monica, CA 90406
Finding a Whatchamacallit on the Web
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