3d-seek: Pictionary search tool?

March 13, 2006

Topics: Reviews.

Pig! No . . . snout! Pigtails? Girl! Eat like a pig! Act like a pig! When pigs fly?

Most of us have, at some time or another, played the game Pictionary. For any who haven’t, it’s a simple game where you are given a pencil, a piece of paper, and a word or phrase – and have to indicate to your ‘team’ what it is that you’re trying to represent by drawing.

It can be a fun game, if you’re a little bit artistic. Less so for those of us with less-than-stellar abilities to draw straight lines.

3d-seek, as mentioned at Search Engine Journal today, is a search engine which gives you the option to search by sketching. It’s a very unique idea, I’ll grant it – but it didn’t do much for me.

To be fair, it was originally designed as a tool for manufacturing firms to find their needed replacement parts. And, to accommodate this better, 3d-seek allows you to upload your 3-d model of a part and use that for your search.

However, to continue being fair, the company wants to branch out into a commercial search tool for small businesses and consumers:

prove equally useful for ordinary shoppers: instead of having to go to the hardware store lugging, say, a specific plumbing joint, a customer could just sketch what he or she needed to find an exact match.

Quoted from 3d-seek as published by Search Engine Journal

So you no longer need to know the name of your part, you merely need to be able to draw it. The site renders your crude sketch and compares it to their stock 3-d models of each part. My tests? Total failures.

Like I said, I can’t draw worth a damn – but at least, given pencil and paper, I can make a pretty good try at it. However, drawing with a mouse takes away even my more rudimentary skills – like drawing a straight line.

A few almost straight lines at 3d-seek

I find it more than a little unlikely that many homeowners have 3d-models of their needed parts around. I also find it less than likely that they’re likely to have a Wacom tablet to help them out. Even with their 3-d model in my other monitor, I was unable to reproduce the drawing effectively enough to have the same model occur as a search result.

My conclusion? This is a really neat idea. The average searcher may make use, on occasion, of the option to search through their models to try and find the appropriate part. However, running down to the local hardware store with your broken part will probably continue to be faster and more convenient.

As a further note, the product requires Active-X and, of course, only functions in Internet Explorer.

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