Saturday, July 26, 2008

LSketchIt - Using Sketches and Retrieval to Create LEGO Models

Despite not yet available for TECHNIC models, I thought it worth to mention it here.

A couple of Engineering students from "Department of Computer Science and Engineering" at "INESC-ID/IST/Technical University of Lisbon" developed a system to create LEGO models using sketches.
The LSketchIt is a calligraphic tool for creating LEGO models that uses sketches and retrieval to ease and speed up the modeling process.

The result of this work was a prototype and one paper which were presented at Annecy (France) in the "fifth Eurographics workshop on sketch-based interfaces and modeling".
The prototype was based on the LeoCad system and supports ldraw files (.dat, .ldr). Regarding the user interaction with this tool calligraphic interface, it is made using sketches, mouse gestures commands and relies on a strong part retrieval algorithm.
See one video demonstrating this innovative interface below, which was previously also tested by a few PLUG members.




... certainly something here that deserves further investment and additional development trying to expand its applicability into additional LEGO themes according to their specificities.
IMHO, these are the kind of small advancements that makes the world move forward.


According to the authors words on the paper abstract,

"In this paper we describe a system to create LEGO® models using sketches. Although there are a few applications to create LEGO models, they are difficult to use, mainly due to the searching and manipulation mechanisms that they (do not) offer. Here, we propose a sketch based approach, where users can easily insert parts, by specifying their dimensions through sketches and the system suggests a list of possible parts. To help with the modeling and the manipulation we also developed a constraint based mechanism, which keeps parts connected, performs snap-to-grid and detects collisions. Experimental tests with users revealed that our approach is easier and faster to use than a conventional application, such as LeoCAD."

If you have interest for reading scientific papers, you may find it here.

2 comments:

Carlos Ribeiro said...

Congratulations to the Portuguese team that developed the prototype, is certainly a simple way to make creations with lEGO® pieces.

AVCampos said...

I'm one of the people who tested an early release, and I must confess that personally, I prefer traditional icon-based interfaces with lists of parts to choose from, instead of gesture-basted interfaces (one other example I can think of is Darwinia)... But the intelligence and technology required to translate scribbles into intelligible, interlocking bricks are indeed amazing!

But I see some rough edges are still present: when the first brick 2x2x1 is heightened, it slightly overlaps the two pieces below it.

Anyway, like I said above, kudos to the creators!

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