PixelTone: A Futuristic Image Editor That Lets You ‘Shop Photos Using Your Voice


Talking to computers is one of the exciting new trends that’s emerging in the tech world, and in the future we may find ourselves casually talking to our gadgets as we go about our lives. One application of this that you may never have considered is photo editing: what if you could post-process your photographs simply by telling an image editor what you would like done to the images?

That’s exactly what scientists are currently working on, and the research is further along than you might think. They’re already playing around with a prototype version of an app — one called PixelTone.

The research team is a collaboration of people from Adobe Research and the University of Michigan. They called PixelTone “A Multimodal Interface for Image Editing.”

Here’s an amazing demonstration video introducing the app and showing what may soon be possible in the world of photo editing:

The app is geared toward making photo editing as hands free as possible. Aside from single gestures in order to tell the computer what you’re referring to or to teach it new things, everything is done through voice commands.

Basic ones include minor adjustments (e.g. brightness, cropping) in certain areas of the frame:


More advanced features include the ability to teach the program about things inside the photograph. Select a shirt and say, “this is a shirt.” Select a face and tell it the person’s name.

Once the computer has learned the people and objects within the shot, you can make adjustments specifically to those learned objects. Telling the program to “change the color of the shirt” presents you with a slider that only changes the shirt’s color:


You can even tell PixelTone to make the photo look “retro”:


The researchers will be presenting their findings later this year at a human-computer interaction conference in Paris. No word yet on when we might see this technology hit mainstream photo editing.

(via PixelTone via John Nack)

  • Tommy Sar

    “Zoom in on the witness eye.”


    “BOOM! We just ID’d the perp from the reflection off an eyeball.”

  • sharpie

    I knew it. Bladerunner is the future no doubt about it.

  • Ro

    Very astute, you progressive thinker, you!B-)

  • Marty Mar

    Voice recco has been around for 30+ years, promising the end of keyboards, any day now. Over the years, I’ve used various products from successive generations, each an improvement on its predecessor. But none have become a roaring commercial success, and text communications devices still have a keyboards of one type or other. So, while PixelTone has some appeal to my geek-side, and it might come out in a retail form of some sort some day, I’m not holding my breath that it will be any more successful than its predecessors for many of the same reasons – they sorta kinda almost work, are far from 100% perfect, and can at times be more frustrating than they are worth. But I do wish Adobe good luck with the product – it just might work.

  • Gregor_Albrecht

    “Now we can apply any filter we want to make it look even better. – Make it retro.”

  • Eduardo Morales

    There’s something unexplainably magical about watching this video. It’s a product demo and everything works exactly how it’s supposed to, much like when Apple first introduced Siri. We know how that turned out (for the moment).

    So what happens when voice-activated computers and applications take off? What if we become emotionally attached to our PCs and tablets? It’ll be a lot harder to get rid of Joe the iPad after he helped us photoshop our wedding album.

  • elektrojan

    imagine a design office with a dozend photoshoppers talking their computers ears off… ;-)

  • Tom Wall

    lol my friends ‘John’ and ‘Sara’ don’t appreciate getting bothered by a giant finger even if there was a creative commons license on their photo.