Best Technology Stuff from Around the World

From photo to drawing with AI

The polaroid camera. Lately it is very popular again. Take a photo and see if he has succeeded. The photo print rolls straight out of the camera, so deleting does not work if you did not like it. This has something: spontaneous and nostalgic.

Dan Macnish, an Australian designer and engineer, takes the Polaroid idea to a completely new level. This best man tried to combine neural networks for object recognition with Polaroid photographs. And with result. He developed ‘Draw This’, a polaroid camera that draws cartoons.

Draw This

It works like this. You point the camera somewhere, take a picture and a drawing comes out. What comes out of the camera for drawing is a surprise. The camera makes the best interpretation of the photo. This means you never see the original photo.

It sounds so simple, a drawing instead of a picture. The technique behind it is anything but simple. Dan Macnish explains that the camera is a mix of neural networks for object recognition, the data set of ‘quick draw’, a heat printer and a Raspberry Pi. The latter is a small computer that you can use to program.

He had objects in an image recognized by the computer. The categories with drawings of the quickdraw dataset were linked to the categories of the images. With coding he managed to get the camera to do its job.

Limited camera

Can you really take a picture of everything and then expect a matching drawing to come out of the camera? Not that. The dataset consists of 345 drawings. These are all kinds of items, such as animals, furniture, food and faces.

The fact that you see a drawing makes the camera pretty comical. A photo of a salad can transform into a donut and a group photo can become a goat. This is because the artificial intelligence can see certain patterns in an image in very different drawings. The camera looks with the simple inaccurate drawings as a starting point. Certain lines in a wave in the sea can, for example, also be seen in a drawing of a haircut.

Do we mind this? No! This camera is a clever piece of technology, which can provide a lot of fun.

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