Microsoft Selfie is a photo enhancement application available on iOS, web and WeChat that is able to intelligently consider an array of variables such as age, gender, skin tone, lighting and more, to help users transform average photos into enhanced, ideal portraits within seconds.
Microsoft’s Beijing-based team behind the app has been paying close attention to user feedback, and the latest update adds new features including: easier social sharing, an updated user interface, selfie stick compatibility and a timer to capture the perfect selfie. The app is now also available in 31 languages, so selfie snappers across Asia-Pacific may navigate their photo enhancement options in Chinese (Traditional), Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, or Hindi.
While the app and the updates might seem rather mundane, rest assured: there is serious science behind the selfie.
Researchers from the Visual Computing group utilized a bevy of computer vision technologies ranging from face detection to visual recognition to super charge the experience, contributing to the app’s meteoric rise in popularity.
The app leverages Microsoft Research’s Face technologies to help determine the age, gender and skin tone of a person and avoid the exaggerated refinements that limit the effectiveness of other selfie apps. These technologies can be utilized by developers through Microsoft Cognitive Services, which also powers other experiences like How-Old.net, TwinsOrNot.net and MyMoustache.net.
Additionally, a new portrait enhancement technique called Digital Face Clean intelligently removes undesired features like wrinkles and baggy eyelids, while preserving desired characteristics like hair, mustaches, tattoos and accessories.
The app’s outstanding noise reduction feature uses “Burst Images De-noising”, a technique that intelligently judges light conditions, automatically enables burst shots and leverages multiple frames for better de-noising, thus improving image quality. This technology has also been used in the popular Blink app.
Microsoft Selfie’s Auto Exposure feature, which can automatically detect a backlit photo and compensate the light level, is also used in the Office Lens app. Combined with dehaze technology, it greatly improves photo clarity.
But it can do more than just enhance selfies.
“Microsoft Selfie can produce professional-looking photos,” said Peggy Dai, program manager of the incubation team.
Existing apps either produce unnatural-looking results, fail in dim lighting conditions or require excessive user interaction, she added. But Microsoft Selfie is designed to be natural, intelligent and easy to use.
“Within two weeks of launch, our app had already achieved more than half a million downloads, which was a lovely surprise. Together with the research team, we will continue to introduce more innovative features, and expand availability on more platforms,” Dai said, adding that the team receives extensive feedback from users.