“Can you improve this? the CSI detective asks the bespectacled computer genius, pointing to a six-pixel area of security footage that may or may not be a driver’s license. Two seconds later, they have the perpetrator’s name, date of birth, address, shoe size, IQ, favorite color, allergy list, and Netflix viewing history. Entertaining, yes. Unreasonable and impossible, of course. But for photographers sitting with an old photo library that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of resolution and clarity, this is a long time dream. Online photo editing tool pixar today launched a new AI-powered image enhancement tool to push dreams into reality.
The tool can offer image enhancement and scaling, which improves overall image quality and resolution for printing or publishing online. The company explains that it uses advanced AI models to remove or blur pixelated effects, add pixels, sharpen and restore scenes and objects, including faces. Traditionally this type of technology has been limited to costly software of limited quality, but Picsart is betting on offering it as an inexpensive and easy to use tool.
“Even with astonishing advances in camera technology, we are still finding that many images are not high enough quality to satisfy all creative needs,” said Humphrey Shea, Picsart chief scientist and founder of Picsart AI Research, in a press release. “Users can now easily apply AI Enhance to any image and improve quality and resolution in seconds, and we’re excited to bring this capability not only to our community of creators, but also to companies using Picsart.”
The technology is available as part Picsart Business APIwhich was launched earlier this year. This feature also appeared in the Picsart iOS app called Portrait HD, which enhances or restores the quality of face elements.
I tried this tool and found that it works well with images that were pretty decent at the beginning but sometimes ended up with some pretty images. . . what shall we say interesting results.
The first example of how technology works as it should is a photograph taken back in 2006 with a Sony Ericsson K608i camera phone. It was one of the very first “high quality” camera phones, and it took photos at an acceptable resolution. This one was 1280 x 1024 pixels. Picsart AI upscaled it to 2560 x 2048, but more importantly, it did a really impressive job of removing a lot of digital noise:
Let’s take a closer look:
Pay special attention to the clarity of the lines in the window, the feature of the roof, the lack of noise in the sky, and the clarity of the marble. Very impressive.
I have tried the Picsart technology on many old photographs and have always been impressed and surprised by the results. Here’s another shot, also taken with a Sony Ericsson K608i camera – the sharpness and contrast look a little creepy, but the clarity of Ashley’s face and the clarity of the bottle label are really impressive.
The filter is a little over-sharpening for faces, presumably because it’s trying to extrapolate what it knows faces “should” look like. I find this is starting to look a bit unrealistic; my face is clear, yes, but the Apple logo and the text in the elevator behind my head are still blurry. It makes the photo sink into scary valley a bit too much for my taste. It’s also a little curious that the second reflection of my face (in the mirror, over my shoulder) didn’t become sharper or more amplified.
Some of the photographs I viewed with the tool remained virtually unchanged, while others distorted the faces of the people in the image beyond recognition in a highly unflattering way. Still, Picsart’s technology is impressive and fun to play with, and as noted by its team, this is the first version of the tool and will improve over time. Ultimately, I’m just happy to see some of my very old photos come to life again, even if they have terrible noise, blur, and resolution scratching the bottom of the barrel.
Credit: techcrunch.com /