Supply Chain Management / IIoT

New tool helps manufacturers search for obscure parts

By Kylie Veleta, for Inside Indiana Business

Sep 08, 2016

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In a world where complex parts are plentiful, searching for the right widget or thingamajig can be maddening for a manufacturer—and costly.

Imaginestics LLC, based at the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, has invented a tool it says will save manufacturers time and money. Called VizSeek, the technology can use things like a sketch or picture to search a manufacturer’s entire database to find that nondescript doohickey.

Imaginestics describes VizSeek as a visual search software. Think of it like a Google search for shapes: rather than entering text into a search engine, users enter an image, such as a drawing, 3D model or photo, and the technology searches the manufacturer’s database for similar shapes.

“When the user uploads a visual file, VizSeek computes its ‘shape signature,’ and compares it with the shape signatures of parts in the [manufacturer’s] database,” says VizSeek Application Engineer Rob Hill. “[That database] could be a catalog of parts of their supplier, CAD data if they’re a designer, images, 3D models or drawings.”

The technology, which can be used on a computer or smartphone, is about to launch a new feature; users can take a picture with their phone, which automatically synchs with a nearby computer to complete the search.

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