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June 16, 2017

Microsoft’s photo editor Pix gets smart art styles, faster performance

by John_A

Why it matters to you

The painter-like style transfers popularized by Prisma are now accessible inside an app that also offers smart shooting with AI capabilities.

Artificial intelligence powers Microsoft Pix’s ability to shoot better photos, from choosing the best shot using a pre-burst to automatically adjusting settings. Now, that same neural network is allowing users to turn their shots into stylized art. On June 15, Microsoft announced updates to Pix that give the photo app Prisma-like painterly effects.

The app update gives the photo editor the ability to apply style transfers. Unlike the traditional photo filter, style transfers actually alter the structure of the image by applying texture and pattern adjustments along with color changes. The update brings 11 new transfer styles from rendering fire into photos to creating pointillism-like art.

Microsoft says that additional style transfers are expected to be released in the next few weeks.

“These are meant to be fun features,” Josh Weisberg, a principal program manager in Microsoft’s Computational Photography Group, said in a blog post. “In the past, a lot of our efforts were focused on using AI and deep learning to capture better moments and better image quality. This is more about fun. I want to do something cool and artistic with my photos.”

Along with the style transfers, the app update includes Pix Paintings, which shows those photos rendering into the new styles in a time-lapse video.

Both new options were developed by training deep neural networks with a large number of different paintings. By analyzing what makes a particular style different from another, the program is able to learn how to transform photographs into those specific styles.

With the update, Microsoft is also pushing to keep the AI program off the cloud and on mobile devices. The size of neural networks traditionally requires running the program on a cloud system, but the update will now run on the device, which means users can apply the effects faster and without using data.

Microsoft Pix’s latest update is now available for download for iOS devices from the App Store.




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