I have had a fantastic idea but no idea how to implement it

One of our endless problems in the space is well-intentioned people tidying up and hiding stuff, it is humanly impossible to know and understand all the tools across all the areas we have and know where they live.

If we built a database of photos of the tools with their associated places where they live I suspect it will be a relatively easy task train and AI to learn where all at all live so when someone is tidying up all they need to do is photograph said mystery object and an AI can tell them exactly where to put it and what it is.

This would be fantastically useful and stop the migration of tools from one area to the next and the next and the next and so on until we have to buy a new one.

So my question is to all you computery code guys out there is this possible and could we possibly implement it

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We can totally train a computer vision model to scan an object and tell you where it goes, potentially even blink an led on the cabinet.

This shouldn’t be a big deal, perhaps @AlessioMorale has more insight on how to do it

Why overengineer it? I’m all for the use of technology when necessary but that might just slow people down in this case, especially when the technology is prone to unreliability and when it does go down it won’t be fixed in a reasonable time because it’s not a critical thing.

Just label them what area they belong (metal, wood, lathe, CNC, electronics), or if you must use a system then use colours or numbers. Numbers would be good if they belong to a specific holder in a specific area. As a former locksmith guy myself, it’s common in larger key systems to use inscriptions on keys/locks to describe an area/door and is easily scalable.

For pure example: If 1 is metalshop, 2 is CNC, 3 is woodshop, etc., then a tool with 3-4 on it can be woodshop area holder (or bench?) number 4, or can be made more specific like 3-4-2-7 meaning woodshop area, bench 4, cupboard 2, shelf/tool 7 (exaggerated example) and the benches/shelves/whatever would also have numbers on them to identify that place/tool. Pretty much like map reading. We’re all inducted on a variety of complicated machines, I’m sure we can all handle reading a couple of digits? :smile: I guess you could still have a database with those numbers in and link to photos of where they belong or something.

Just to mention: When I’ve tidied up, I leave tools where they were unless I know 100% where it belongs to avoid such complaints! I know exactly the frustration it causes. :smile:

Looking forward to see what suggested solutions there will be for this.


“Why over engineer it?”

Just for fun.


We don’t do things becase they are easy, we do them because we thought they were easy.


If you were to build said database of tools and their homes, I’d highly recommend instead just using QR codes/barcodes or something rather than AI trying to identify the tool. AI is just asking for something to be miscategorised or otherwise fall over in some form.

Said barcoding essentially just follows the hierarchical system @danielbenton described anyway, the barcode just allows for scanning to pull up extra data, e.g. maintenance inspection history such as tracking inspection of lifting equipment. This is what I’ve previously used in workshops. In this instance, you could potentially tie stuff like MSDS, consumables information, etc. to that barcode.

Sometimes, the most beautifully engineered systems are those stripped back to their most robust and elegant form :slight_smile:


Agreed both with the original desire for organisation and with comments re: colour/bar-coding — for a fixed (and small) set of items any ML is more pain than it’s worth.

Can always add RFID and network of transmitters around the space for real-time tracking of everything in 3D if you’re looking for a challenge (and lengthy discussions about privacy and total surveillance)

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Do we even have an agreed place to put stuff? I think if we had a group tidy up on some Friday, we could formalise where things should go and unify the shelf labels. I also think bar code IDs are a good idea and ideally an online inventory DB, Spreadsheet or discourse post.

We need to start by having each area set a specific home for each tool… then shadow boards, numbers, qr codes whatever works best, but right now there isn’t even a specific place to put a lot of things regardless…

Would be great if some members took this on as a project and worked with the techs to apply to the areas…

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Yup. Room-area-location(optional, like which drawer) labels that can be quickly whipped up. For example, wood shop rulers could be labeled w-cnc, w for wood shop, cnc because they live in the wall by the cnc. No need to make it complicated. Could have a little map that lives by the door that has the areas marked it

Agree that we should actually find a spot for everything to go as a first step. That’s slowly been coming together, but we need to make an effort to get everything a home


I really enjoy this kind of simple organisational task, so I’d be keen to be part of the implementation team. I’m busy for the next fortnight, but if it hasn’t been sorted by then, I’ll contribute some time to it.

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We don’t have a big bunch of tools in the 3D printing area. To whomever takes on the task, would a spreadsheet of all the labels we need be useful.

One other addition that could possibly be useful is a universal/common tool name on it, especially for those who are trying to learn a new skill sometimes just the strange/un-familiar names of things can be confusing. I 100% understand if that blows the base idea out the water and don’t want people having arguments over what to call things. Vernier gauge vs callipers etc. I get this isn’t a taxonomy exercise.

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What to name your variable is always the hardest problem in programming.

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That would be awesome, thanks Will!

Yeah we tried that it really didn’t work

I have an old Alexa echo dot if that can be linked to some list? We can rename it to ‘computer’ or ‘makerspace’ or ‘hal 9000’ or something, have it not store or record etc… Can it be hacked?

Everything can be hacked if your smart enough
I am not smart enough

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Not to throw more chaos out there but instead of AI labelling, you could do an AR app that regognises the space (not hard at all to do) that then overlays where things should be…

Too late.


Yeah that’s another level of complexity, like Amazon level of complexity.