June 1, 2009

The 3D Warehouse, now in new shape

Google SketchUp launched an experimental new feature that lets you find similarly-shaped models in the Google 3D Warehouse. To try it out, go to a model detail pages and click on "See other models shaped like this". There, you'will see a bunch of models that are similarly shaped.

Not only is this generally interesting, but it'll also help you find stuff that you might miss with a text-only search. For example, this model is similar to this model, but they don't share any text; you might not find the first one, yet it might be exactly what you need. This feature also works well for finding things with a distinctive shape, like biplanes, swivel chairs, and 1960s muscle cars. Maybe the next time you're modeling an interior, you can use this feature to poke around for options when you're selecting furniture.

As fun as this feature is, it's also pretty cool that Google's culture leads to innovations like this. Last year, a few of us from Boulder visited Google's NYC office for an internal conference to see what new and exciting stuff our research crew had been cooking up. In a side conversation with one of the researchers there, I discovered that he'd done a lot of work in the past on 3D shape search. And as luck would have it, an intern who was just starting also had a ton of experience doing this. So a team was born! Following a good deal of work, we've got a new feature for you to play with. Enjoy!