Bringing Still Images to Life

Bringing Still Images to Life

Computer scientists from the University of Washington have developed a new algorithm that would make every Harry Potter fan’s dream come true: bringing two-dimensional images to life. This new algorithm, called Photo Wake-Up, uses augmented reality tools to bring animated movement to an object from any two-dimensional image by giving them the ability to walk,run, and even jump.

“This is a very hard fundamental problem in computer vision,” said study co-author Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman in a statement. “The big challenge here is that the input is only from a single camera position, so part of the person is invisible. Our work combines technical advancement on an open problem in the field with artistic creative visualization.”

The algorithm works by first identifying the person or object in an image by outlining their body to create what researchers call a “mask”. A 3D template is then matched to and wrapped around the body position so that the object takes on a multi-dimensional role over a two-dimensional background. Information is stored in each pixel to track the distance between points on the object’s body for fluid motion that is maintained when the algorithm puts the original texture back over the under wrapping.

Though this algorithm is still far from perfect, it could potentially add more depth to museum exhibits, provide realistic approaches to video game experiences, and help children bring their artwork to life, which a few years ago was thought impossible.

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