AI research is a great field and all, but I occasionally look at our colleagues over in computer graphics and marvel at what they are doing. SIGGRAPH Asia is coming up later this year, and while I'm sure that we'll see all sorts of mind-blowing things, Tao Chen et al from Tsinghua University have decided to get the party started right now.
Their development, PhotoSketch, is a cloud-based app (I hear they are all of the rage these days). It takes a quick, labeled sketch from the user and turns it into a beautiful photograph containing all of the requested elements. This video demonstrates the process:
Basically, the app lets you enter any rough sketch, label it, and press the big "go" button. Their algorithm will find images in its database that match the given labels and decide on the most appropriate match by looking at the labels and sizes of the other objects in the sketch (hey - there's the data mining connection). It will them seamlessly merge all of these disparate elements into a single image, match them with a background, and adjust the lighting and shadows into something vaguely realistic. The results look awesome. There is still something a little.. off.. about the examples, but they will let the layperson compete with the gods in internet Photoshop contests.