MIT Researchers Create An App That Turns Selfies Into Works Of Art

Sure you can add filters to your Instagram pictures to make that shot of your dog sitting near a puddle look like some kind of lobotomized-Ansel-Adams gelatin plate but can you make your head shots look amazing? YiChang Shih, a researcher at MIT, has figured out how.

The app essentially “reads” the styles of famous portrait photographers – Avedon, Platon, Arbus – using existing photos. The unique style is then automatically placed over a boring old snapshot, creating a stark masterpiece of portraiture or a haunting, intimate look at the soul of your gassy friend Frank after he ate too much pizza.

The system works only with faces and is simple enough to run on a smartphone or computer. By offering “styles,” self-shooters can create dramatic scenes or whimsical portraits with a few swipes. The app also works on video. The project is a joint effort between Adobe, MIT, and the University of Virginia.

“We’re looking at creating a consumer application utilizing the technology,” said Adobe’s Robert Bailey. “One of the things we’re exploring is remixing of content.”

Because it isn’t just a filter, however, you don’t need any experience in photography to add unique lighting effects and other tricks that make selfies look great.

“You can take a photo that has relatively flat lighting and bring out portrait-style pro lighting on it and remap the highlights as well,” said Bailey.

No word yet on availability of the app and I shudder to think what the selfie generation will do when they find out they can look even more beautiful on Facebook. At least this might kill the duck face.