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There must be a lot of frustrated artists inside Microsoft Research. First they came out with Songsmith, a program that creates an automatic musical accompaniment for singers. Now a different group of researchers is turning its attention to helping people draw.

ShadowDraw, one of the projects on display at the annual Microsoft Research TechFest event in Redmond this week, is an “interactive assistant for freehand drawing” — analyzing what people draw with a digital pen on the computer screen and matching it to a large database of images to predict what they’re drawing and suggest “shadow strokes” for them to trace.

Here’s a sample before-and-after from the ShadowDraw project page.

Microsoft Research Larry Zitnick demonstrates and talks about the project in this Microsoft Research video. No word on whether or when this might become a publicly available product, or be included in one. Microsoft Research projects are typically strictly concepts until the company says otherwise.

TechFest is a science fair where the company’s researchers demonstrate their latest work and concepts, primarily to an internal audience of Microsoft product teams. More on the event on this Microsoft page.

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