Can a Computer Program Beat You at Pictionary?

Videos Highlighting The Latest Search Trends.
Sept. 14 2012 5:30 PM

Can a Computer Program Beat You at Pictionary?


It may not know much about art, but it knows what it sees.

Computer researchers have developed a program that can recognize and identify rough, hand-drawn sketches, even as they are being created. Enlisting the limited artistic skills of everyday doodlers through Amazon's labor-outsourcing site, Mechanical Turk, the programmers received 20,000 sketches, which they collated into 256 object categories and fed to the computer as a recognition database. The team then created software that, using these object categories as reference, attempts to identify a scribble as it is being drawn.

Pretty impressive. But you can still crush it in Pictionary. The digital doodle ID’er has about a 56-percent success rate in pegging pen scratch, compared to a human's nearly 75 percent. This gap is due to the limited 256-category knowledge, which the programmers say can be expanded.

Beyond some serious gaming potential, the program could be used down the road in universal, translation-free search applications, on the theory that worldwide, a bunny rabbit is a bunny rabbit.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

So, Apple Is Not Shuttering Beats, but the Streaming Service Will Probably Be Folded Into iTunes

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 5:45 PM The University of California Corrects “Injustice” by Making Its Rich Chancellors Even Richer
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.