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Google’s doodle bot turns crude drawings into glorious clip art
April 23, 2017, 1:27 pm

Google’s latest AI toy may be its most clever: an automated drawing bot that analyzes what you are doodling in real time to suggest a more polished piece of clip art to replace it. Called AutoDraw, the software is another of Google’s ongoing creative machine learning demonstrations that it releases as part of its AI Experiments series. It uses the underlying technology behind the company’s experimental image recognition software to identify potential objects and pairs that with a database of neat and simplistic hand-drawn images.

The company says AutoDraw is a “drawing tool for the rest of us,” and by us it means aesthetically impaired individuals who cannot even doodle a circle without making it look like a square. AutoDraw pairs the magic of machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help you draw stuff fast,” says Google. The actual tech under the hood comes from another Google AI experiment called Quick Draw, which uses machine learning to analyze human drawings and get better over time at guessing what they are.

Quick Draw was a neat distraction, but AutoDraw is a gem with some very tangible benefits for non-artists looking to add art to everything from fliers and party invites to custom birthday cards.

Of course, AutoDraw is not perfect. A lot of the times the program will suggest some truly bizarre replacements and it is impossible to know really how the software arrived there. Write some English text and it could make some really whacky suggestions. But then, that probably gives you an opportunity to get really weird and experimental, like turning a taco into a boomerang.

In other cases, AutoDraw feels truly novel and clever, like when it appears to understand doodling shorthand for turning a pair of triangles into a fish.

It is a ton of fun to play with and it could easily be the first of the many Google-made experiments that could truly take-off with the general public. Google seems to know this, too, which is why it made the tool free and accessible through the mobile web, so you can access it on both your desktop and on a tablet or smartphone. Try it out for yourself.

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