Analyze, Recognize, Retrieval: Copyright or Share?

Fujitsu has developed a technology for retrieving 3D CAD models with partially similar shapes from an existing database.  This has been developed to speed up design time when engineers need to create new models by drawing in parts and geometry from existing models in the database, there fore making it possible for them to copy sections or incorporate the entire geometry.  They claim that this technology they intend to comercialize will save design time up to 90% (I assume that is when the part they are designing is EXACTLY the same).

This technology works by analyzing a database, segmenting the 3D models into component parts, distinctive shapes, protrusions, relationships between surfaces, size, orientation and more. The designer then specifies a search key and 3D models that meet that criteria are displayed in a color coded spectrum to be chosen by the designer.

Above is the way in which the database is queried for geometric features.

Above we see an engineer hunched over CRT monitors in a futuristic scenario where flatscreens no longer exist.

The idea from Fujitsu has implications for design engineers working within an internal database but the implications are far wider in a social context as the very same technology may be used to inhibit or promote sharing of 3D models with associated IP issues.

  • What if this were a way to register a part as being protected by copyright as an artistic work?
  • What if this technology were used to register a ‘3D Patent’ of a unique 3D printed mechanism? 
  • What if these registered parts were used to block a ‘consumer level desktop machine’ from 3D printing copyrighted works.
  • What if we used this technology to make a free public database of 3D geometry that can be accessed by Tinkercad, 3DTin, 123D, Inventor Fusion, MeshMixer to make it easy for people to make awesome works from shared models? 


What do you think the potential use will be for this technology?