It looks like Microsoft is finally putting its war chest and brilliant minds to good use: the company has released a new free app for Windows Phone users called Face Swap. The app uses face detection to let you quickly switch the faces of subjects in your photos. Simply shake the phone and faces will be swapped! The resulting face swap photos can be saved or shared on social networking websites. Hopefully they turn this into a web app soon.
After being spurned back in early 2008, Microsoft is supposedly on the hunt to acquire Yahoo once again. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is working on putting a bid together with Silver Lake Partners, the company that Microsoft recently purchased Skype from. If the buyout succeeds this time, Microsoft will also become the owner of Flickr, which Yahoo purchased six years ago.
In other news, Google recently revealed that 3.4 billion photos have been uploaded to Google+ in the past 100 days. Seems like the service is becoming a popular option for photo sharing.
Talk about a Kodak acquisition seems to be heating up as giant tech companies — including Google, Microsoft, and Apple — continue to engage in a patent-hoarding war. Just two days ago, Google agreed to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion in order to snatch up the roughly 25,000 patents owned by the handset maker. Bloomberg writes that the patents held by Kodak may be worth five times more than the company itself, making it a prime acquisition target:
If Kodak’s patents can command $3 billion, acquiring the company would outweigh the liabilities [...] An acquirer would also be able to sell Kodak’s commercial and consumer printing businesses and the digital camera unit for at least $2.5 billion, he said.
Buyers may include Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, Samsung, the Suwon, South Korea-based maker of Galaxy phones and tablet computers, and Google, according to Luskin.
That’s crazy — can you imagine Google or Microsoft buying Kodak to strip it of its patents and then selling off the corpse to some other camera maker? No wonder Kodak adopted a ‘poison pill’.
What if you could take perfect group photographs by first shooting multiple frames and then selecting the best portions of each one? Microsoft amazed us with this concept last year with its Photo Fuse technology, and now we may soon be seeing something similar coming to mobile phone cameras (and hopefully compact cameras as well). Imaging technology company Scalado gave the above demonstration at a conference earlier this month showing off Rewind, a super-useful feature that shoots a burst of full-res photos, then lets you select the best faces for each person in the image. Next up on our wishlist: Content Aware Fill.
We may soon be using software that can easily recreate 3D models of objects and locations using only a series of photographs taken from various perspectives. Researchers in Microsoft’s Interactive Visual Media Group have created an application that does this, generating smooth and seamless 3D views of things using photos taken while walking around the object. In the demo above, we see what the software can do with 40 images shot while walking around a car. It’s pretty amazing.
The Internet was abuzz yesterday due to a secret meeting at Adobe’s offices between the head honchos of Microsoft (Steve Ballmer) and Adobe (Shantanu Narayen). The New York Times reports:
The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, covered a number of topics, but one of the main thrusts of the discussion was Apple and its control of the mobile phone market and how the two companies could team up in the battle against Apple. A possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft were among the options.
Whoa. Acquisition. That’s a pretty deal. So big, in fact, that the rumor drove Adobe’s stock price up 11.5% yesterday, adding about $1.5 billion to their market cap. Read more…
At SIGGRAPH 2010 in Los Angeles last month, Microsoft researchers showed off some new technology that improves existing digital blur reduction techniques by outfitting a camera with motion detecting sensors.
The team created an off-the-shelf hardware attachment consisting of a three-axis accelerometer, three gyroscopes, and a Bluetooth radio, attaching the setup to a Canon 1Ds Mark III camera. The researchers then created a software algorithm to use the motion information captured during the exposure to do “dense, per-pixel spatially-varying image deblurring”. Read more…
Microsoft is adding a boatload of new features to its Windows Live Essentials suite of free applications (for Windows users), and one of the features to appear in Windows Live Photo Gallery caught our eye. It’s called Photo Fuse, and what it does is take a number of similar photographs and allow you to choose the best parts of each one to include in the final photo.
For example, if you take a number of group shots, you can combine only the faces that are smiling and not blinking. What’s more, the resulting photograph is quite seamless, and reminds us of the Content Aware Fill feature of Photoshop CS5.
TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington had a chance to sit down with Brian Hall (GM at Microsoft), and recorded the following demonstration of the technology:
Keep your eyes peeled — the new features won’t be appearing in the suite for another few weeks. Now if only Microsoft would include a Content Aware Fill-type feature as well…