SketchIT: A Sketch Interpretation Tool for Conceptual Mechanical Design

Unknown author (1996-03-13)

We describe a program called SketchIT capable of producing multiple families of designs from a single sketch. The program is given a rough sketch (drawn using line segments for part faces and icons for springs and kinematic joints) and a description of the desired behavior. The sketch is "rough" in the sense that taken literally, it may not work. From this single, perhaps flawed sketch and the behavior description, the program produces an entire family of working designs. The program also produces design variants, each of which is itself a family of designs. SketchIT represents each family of designs with a "behavior ensuring parametric model" (BEP-Model), a parametric model augmented with a set of constraints that ensure the geometry provides the desired behavior. The construction of the BEP-Model from the sketch and behavior description is the primary task and source of difficulty in this undertaking. SketchIT begins by abstracting the sketch to produce a qualitative configuration space (qc-space) which it then uses as its primary representation of behavior. SketchIT modifies this initial qc-space until qualitative simulation verifies that it produces the desired behavior. SketchIT's task is then to find geometries that implement this qc-space. It does this using a library of qc-space fragments. Each fragment is a piece of parametric geometry with a set of constraints that ensure the geometry implements a specific kind of boundary (qcs-curve) in qc-space. SketchIT assembles the fragments to produce the BEP-Model. SketchIT produces design variants by mapping the qc-space to multiple implementations, and by transforming rotating parts to translating parts and vice versa.