Do you remember when you were a kid and you desperately wanted to draw things — even simple items like cartoon cats and dogs — but even your best efforts resulted in your parents having to take frantic guesses as to what you were aiming at? I can hear the desperation in my dad’s voice now: “That’s a wonderful car… plane… boat… rocket… house… horse… cow… dinosaur… I give in; give me a clue; what’s it supposed to be?”
Later, when you become a parent yourself, you find your kids are constantly asking you to show them how to draw things and/or proudly showing you their creations and asking if you think they fully captured the essence of their subject (can you spell “irony”?).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could afford to have a private tutor with endless patience who could teach your kids how to draw? In addition to them learning a useful skill, we certainly shouldn’t rule out the added benefits of (a) giving them something to do and (b) keeping them quiet.
Well, I was just looking at a Kickstarter that launched a day-or-so-ago for something called the DrawBo Robotic Drawing Tutor. As you can see in this video, DrawBo is a pretty cool idea.
You attach two adhesive hooks (supplied) to a white board, hang DrawBo — which is shaped like a butterfly — from the hooks, give it a pen, pencil, or crayon, plug it in, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
After downloading the free DrawBo app to a smartphone or tablet, your kids can select from the thousands of images in DrawBo’s gallery, with new images being added on a daily basis. These images are categorized into three difficulty levels — Easy, Medium, and Advanced — thereby satisfying the needs of kids with different ages and abilities, and also facilitating incremental learning of the art.
Now, here’s the clever part. Once the kid has selected an image, DrawBo uses artificial intelligence (AI) to split that image into a series of simple lines and curves (see also What the FAQ are AI, ANNs, ML, DL, and DNNs?). DrawBo then draws the image, pausing after each step to give the kid time to replicate that line or curve.
It’s also possible to vary the pause time to better suit each kid’s abilities so DrawBo’s not too fast for them to keep up and not so slow that they get bored and frustrated. Thinking about it, you could make this into a game in its own right, getting a gaggle (or squeal or squall —
whatever collective noun best suits your circumstances
) of two or more kids to draw a series of images and gradually reducing the pause time to make replicating each image just a tad more challenging.
The only sad thing about all this is that DrawBo won’t be ready for this coming Christmas because I know a lot of parents who would LOVE to be able to buy this for their kids. Even so, when DrawBo does start to ship, it’s going to make a lot of people — both parents and kids — very, very happy indeed.