Microsoft Research Blog

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Popular Microsoft Selfie app updated with social sharing

January 21, 2016 | By Microsoft blog editor

By George Thomas Jr., Writer, Microsoft

Burst Image De-noising technology compensates for low-light conditions.

Released less than a month ago and among the best new apps for iOS, the popular Microsoft Selfie app is adding new features.

Microsoft’s Beijing based team behind the app has been paying close attention to user feedback, and the latest update adds two new features: easier social sharing and an updated user interface.

And 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 Project Oxford, 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 or 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 after releasing, our app has achieved more than half a million downloads, which is a lovely surprise for our team,” she said, adding the team has received extensive instructive feedback from users.

“Together with the research team we will introduce more innovative features to the app, and expand availability on more platforms,” Dai said.

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