Quick, Draw! and how we taught computers how we sketch

“I’m not sure how I missed this project prior to today, but it’s really better now with a sizable data set, the data can produce some amazing results if we ask the right questions. My mind boggles when I try to think of all the different things that can be done with this. Google can show us where in the world we were raised by how we draw a circle!

This was how I greeted my friend, another statistic geek, who could feel my enthusiasm but had no idea what I was talking about.

I was trying to describe Quick, Draw! a project by Alphabet released November 2016. It’s a game where you draw a passport, peanut or a pear in 20 seconds. It’s meant to be played on a touchscreen, and it’s quick and fun.

The point of the game is to get user input – sketches of everyday objects. There are 114,474 pear drawings in the data set, and it was able to guess mine in about 5 seconds.

The best thing about the project is that all the data is available for anyone to look at. And we can improve the data set.

I found a pear drawing that I thought did not look like a pear, drawing #83. I flagged it and they thanked me.

What can we really do with this? Nikhil Sonnad and Thu-Huong Ha from Quartz took the data and analyzed it looking for similarities in simple drawings and location. They found that generally western letter formation leads us to all draw circles counter-clockwise from the top; then spun it into an interesting article.

I love the way Google shows how the close matches match what you are drawing, it’s a clear way to see the overlap in the objects they chose as items to be drawn.

Perhaps the best thing it can do is help all of us draw better faster!