A different kind of 3D search engine

By Brian Bergstein updated 4/15/2004 6:24:21 PM ET

NEW YORK — The mind-boggling speed and reach of Internet search engines mask a severe limitation: They are powered by words alone. But the world is full of objects and patterns. Now computing researchers have developed search engines that can mine catalogs of three-dimensional objects, like airplane parts or architectural features.

All the users have to do is sketch what they’re thinking of, and the search engines can produce comparable objects.
“The idea of information and knowledge, and retrieval of knowledge, has been something I’ve been intrigued with for a long time. This gives it a more solidified meaning,” said Karthik Ramani, a Purdue University professor who created a system that can find computer-designed industrial parts.
Helpful for companies Ramani expects his search engine will serve huge industrial companies whose engineers often waste time and energy designing a specialized part when someone else has already created, used or rejected something similar.
Rick Jeffs, senior engineering specialist at a Caterpillar Inc. engine center in Lafayette, Ind., believes Ramani’s technology could help the company simplify its inventory. Jeffs’ center alone has tens of thousands of different parts.
“If you’ve got to design a new elbow for an oil line, more often than not, we have a plethora of elbows,” Jeffs said. But even though many parts are created with computer-aided design (CAD) software, they are catalogued such that each has to be examined separately, a tedious task “that isn’t even performed that often, because it isn’t feasible or practical.”
With the Purdue search engine, designers could sketch the part they need and instantly see dozens in inventory that might fit the bill.

If an item seems close, but not quite right, designers can see a “skeleton” of the part and manipulate it on their computer screens — make it longer or shorter or curved, for example — and then query the database again.

“It seems like there’s ever-greater demands for speed in product development, and it’s those kinds of breakthroughs that are needed to keep up,” Jeffs said. “This would really just add to the efficiency.”
Mainstream search needs more work Mainstream search engines, meanwhile, are still trying to master 2-D images. For example, Google Inc.’s picture search program delivers pretty good results but can’t actually examine the images it serves up. It mines the text surrounding the photos, and hopes for success.
However, 3-D search engines have begun to emerge as improvements in computing power and interactive modeling software have deepened the pool of designs available to query — not only in industrial settings but also in highly detailed online virtual worlds.
Princeton University professor Thomas Funkhouser and colleagues have put a 3-D search engine on the Web that lets anyone sketch an object using a computer mouse, add a textual description, then search for similar models in design databases.
The results can be startling. Draw a big potato, and the system responds with a bunch of, well, potato-looking objects — and a few urns. Those seem wrong until you rotate your potato, orienting it vertically instead of horizontally, and see your sketch actually does resemble an urn, narrow on top and bottom and bulging in the middle.
Certainly this makes old-fashioned keyword searches seem a blunt instrument.
Then again, text can be far more precise than a sketch. If you’re searching for information about baseball Hall of Famers, there’s little chance a computer will misunderstand a query for “Willie Mays.”
The breakthough voxel So how can computer programs look for objects? The breakthrough is the voxel.
Digital camera owners are familiar with pixels — the basic element of a digital image. Each pixel is a tiny grain of color.
Similarly, a voxel is the basic element of a three-dimensional object that is represented in a computer. Each voxel represents the volume of the object at any given point.
In Ramani’s program, for example, stored CAD designs and entries sketched by users are converted into voxels. Then voxel patterns are compared for similarities. Because the voxels represent volume rather than just shape, the program can sniff out, say, a coffee cup, which is mostly hollow but might have a solid handle.

Princeton’s Funkhouser believes 3-D searching should get even smarter. He believes the systems ought to learn from their users’ queries and eventually recognize common patterns. A computer could eventually recognize that several different images all show a human, even if the people are in different poses.

For the foreseeable future, 3-D searching is likely to see only specialized business uses. However, Peter Norvig, Google’s director of search quality, calls the technology “interesting” and adds, “If it starts to take off, we’ll look more seriously at it.”
Ramani is still fine-tuning the interface of his 3-D search engine, which is to be licensed by Imaginestics LLC, where he is chief scientist. But he is already excited about the improvements in productivity that could result when objects, not just words, are accessible through computers.
“I think this,” he said, “is the beginning of the information age.”

Yahoo! unveils new search engine, Axis

Updated 04:37 PM May 24, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo! is joining the battle to redefine Internet search and taking aim at building a better Web browser, too.
The troubled Internet company is taking its shot with a new tool it calls “Axis” that alters browsers made by other companies so search results can be displayed in a more convenient and compelling format.
Yahoo! released Axis in Apple’s app store late yesterday. That version will work only on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The software also can be installed as a plug-in on most major browsers used on desktop computers and laptops. Apps for other mobile devices are in the works.
Browsers running Axis can display search results in a panorama of visual thumbnails that can be scrolled through above a Web page. It’s a departure from search engines’ traditional presentation of a list of staid Web links that require more navigation and guesswork.
All the major search engines are adopting new formats in an effort to make it easier for their users to find the information they want without having to click from one page to the next.
Two weeks ago, Microsoft previewed an upcoming change that will spread Bing’s search results in three columns, including one devoted to personalised recommendations pulled from social networking services.
Last week, Google unveiled a new search feature called a “Knowledge Graph” that seeks to provide more immediate answers by highlighting information from a database containing more than 500 million entries about people, places and othe
r commonly requested things.
“Searching through links has outlived its utility,” said Mr Shashi Seth, a Yahoo! senior vice president. “Users are demanding more now because we are all short on time.”
Yahoo! is counting on Axis to reverse its steadily declining share of the Internet’s lucrative search market and drive more traffic to its own website from the growing audience of people surfing the Web on smartphones and tablet computers.
Although Axis works on desktop browsers, its greatest appeal figures to be on mobile devices. That’s because the search results can be seen at the top of the device just by flicking on whatever page might be on the screen at the time. With that, the relevant results appear in a ribbon across the top of the page. Each result appears as a snapshot of the pertinent Web page, making it easier for users to find the right information.
Much like Google’s Knowledge Graph, Axis draws its results from a custom-built index. Most of the data in the Axis index resides on Yahoo!’s own services. If Axis cannot find answers there, it presents links from Bing’s search index.
Yahoo! has been relying on Bing’s search technology since 2010 as part of a decade-long partnership formed to lure users away from Google. So far, though, most of Bing’s gains have come at Yahoo!’s expense
But Yahoo! was losing search traffic well before it began leaning on Bing.
Yahoo!’s share of the United States search market stood at 13.5 per cent through April, down from nearly 25 per cent five years ago, according to the research firm comScore. Bing holds a 15.4 per cent share, up from 9.4 per cent five years ago when Microsoft operated a search engine under a different name and system. Google’s share has climbed from 56 per cent five years ago to more than 66 per cent now.
Yahoo!’s alliance with Microsoft gives it the flexibility to offer unique search features, such as Axis, that Bing does not have. Getting people to use its search engine more frequently is important to Yahoo! because it keeps 88 per cent of the revenue generated from requests made on its service, but does not get any money when a query is entered directly on Bing.
The erosion in Yahoo!’s Internet market share has been a major factor in a financial malaise that has caused the company’s stock to slump for years and contributed to the management turmoil that has taken Yahoo! through four CEOs – including two interim leaders – during just the past nine months, when it was working on Axis.
Yahoo! will not show ads next to Axis search results initially, but the company believes the visual format will be ideal for video commercials and graphical marketing.
In an effort to make Axis even more useful, Yahoo! plans to store search activity on its servers so users can have access to their past activity on any computer or mobile device where they log in. Axis will accept the logins that people use on Google and Facebook, as well as Yahoo!.
The biggest challenge facing Axis may be overcoming the perception that Yahoo! stopped innovating in search when it joined forces with Microsoft.
“If it’s good enough and cool enough, people will go out of their way to get it,” predicted IDC analyst Karsten Weide. REUTERS
I am not afraid of competition from various others search engines, as long as they do not copy my cornerstone technology of using intelligent searches, which is also linked to my “intelligent software” and “The Brain and Developing Intelligence”, it may take me a lifetime to complete my thesis, but that is life and there is no shortcut.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

Author: Gilbert Tan TS

IT expert with more than 20 years experience in Multiple OS, Security, Data & Internet , Interests include AI and Big Data, Internet and multimedia. An experienced Real Estate agent, Insurance agent, and a Futures trader. I am capable of finding any answers in the world you want as long as there are reports available online for me to do my own research to bring you closest to all the unsolved mysteries in this world, because I can find all the paths to the Truth, and what the Future holds. All I need is to observe, test and probe to research on anything I want, what you need to do will take months to achieve, all I need is a few hours.​

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s