Monday, February 12, 2007

A More Beautiful (Average) You

I posted a story a few months ago about a "Vanity Camera With Slimming Effect," that highlighted some simple image warping algorithms to make photo subjects appear slimmer without distorting the rest of the image too noticeably. Another recent post, "Easy on the Eyes, Easy on the Mind," discussed the fact that over large populations, it was the average facial features of the population as a whole that became the standard for beauty.

Well a quartet of Israeli scientists has taken these ideas a big step further to demonstrate an automatic beautification algorithm that will subtly adjust the spacing and symmetry of your facial features, i.e. ocular spacing, shape and aspect ratio of forehead, lip position and shape, and so on... in such a fashion as to make your image more "average" and thereby more appealing.

The results are astounding. Check out these screen shots of the tool in action, with some of the population database (from which the averages were computed) shown below, and the before and after positioning of the facial features called out on the warped grid. The before and after images tell the story.

Now check out the results in higher resolution:

I predict it won't be long before this is an automatic feature in most cameras.

See the authors' web site and their Siggraph brief for more details.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Real Reasons

As someone who gives several presentations a week to groups ranging from elementary and high school students to company employees, through senior industry officials, venture capitalists and politicians, it's not often that I hear or read a speech that gives me chills.

But this one almost made me cry in how effectively it captured the spirit of my personal dreams and ambitions and the motivations that drive me to build large companies that achieve global impact or work to change education on a national scale. It is a speech by Michael Griffin, the current head of NASA. I had the pleasure of meeting and dining with Mr. Griffin last week in Davos at the World Economic Forum, and I have to say that my first impression of the man was of a reserved yet competent administrator who has done a great job in wrangling a difficult government agency in a time of heady political distraction over the last few years.

But read this speech entitled "Space Exploration: Real Reasons and Acceptable Reasons," and I think you will see the true seeds of greatness in the man. If I weren't running MobiTV at the moment, I could almost be convinced to go back to NASA and work for Mr. Griffin.

Thanks for the pointer, Mike.