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Spectacles at IJCAI

Spectacles at IJCAI

Oskar Bartenstein

Eye-catching and dressy spectacles were designed by the Japanese company Paris-Miki at the AI Research Exhibition, part of the bi-annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, in August 1997 at Nagoya, Japan.

The attraction was obvious: in an IT world where people are scrambling to put their paper catalogs in databases with HTML frontends, the system performed a complex real world concurrent enginering and sales support task right in front of the stunned crowd.

Starting with a high resolution digital photograph of the prospective customer, a computer vision component extracts face features, the opto-medical data comes from the prescription, then a highly interactive AI component kicks in and designs custom made spectacles that will satisfy the physical constraints of the wearer, medical requirements, manufacturability and other mechanical aspects, and finally the fashionable impact the wearer wants to convey to his or her audience.

A few seconds' interview lets the customer choose indicative notions, e.g. "classic", "business-like", "smart". These notions represent points in a virtual multi-dimensional space of emotions that the new spectacles shall convey about the wearer.

These notions in turn drive the Artificial Intelligence kernel of the design system, which computes appropriate lens shapes and colors. The knowledge used to cover the distance from "classic" to the Bezier splines for the machining center was provided by the teachers of the Paris-Miki design academy. The knowledge covers a wide range of design factors, including subtle things like prevailing climatic conditions that influence lens colors.

A customer can review the proposed product immediately: the computer renders the newly designed spectacles imposed on the photographed face in virtual reality.

"The system is a big success because it allows us to offer top-level service in every single store" said Ryuto Fujie, EDP Manager of Paris-Miki, who visited IJCAI at the occasion. "The customer gets an individually designed product without the extra cost for the designer".

Visitors, many of them AI researchers themselves, expressed surprise that AI technology in the form of a Prolog based integrated CAD/CAM system could design spectacles from medical information and computer vision input in such uncomprimising quality.

They were even more surprised that the system at the IJCAI exhibition is not a laboratory prototype but integral part of everyday business in several hundred locations in Japan alone, in field use in numerous countries in Europe, USA, Asia and Oceania.

The first system went online in the boutique Mikissimes in 1994 in the Carousel under the Louvre in Paris and was an instant success.

The overwhelming results convinced top management within weeks to equip hundreds of their world wide shops with the system. The strategic use of Prolog technology to improve customer services proved correct: sales soared, in only two years profits have doubled. The company is now listed at the Osaka stock exchange.

Oskar Bartenstein

IF Computer Japan Limited

5-28-2 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku

Tokyo 113 Japan

Tel +81-3-5814-3352

Fax +81-3-5814-3357



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