All posts in “microsoft pix”

Microsoft’s AI camera app Pix is now a business productivity tool


Microsoft Pix, the iOS camera app that leverages A.I. to help you take better photos, is venturing beyond being a tool for consumers with an update that now sees it able to assist with photos of business documents, whiteboards, post-it notes, and business cards. According to Microsoft, the additional support focused on office productivity made sense because people were already doing a lot of document scanning in the workplace, its data had shown.

With the updated app, when you go to snap a photo of a document, whiteboard, business card or another item that’s not a traditional photo, Pix will automatically detect what it’s seeing in real-time and make intelligent camera adjustments to help you get the best picture.

After the shutter clicks, the app then uses A.I. to further improve the images by doing things like cropping the edges, boosting the color and tone, sharpening the focus, and tweaking the angle to render the image in a straight-on perspective, says Microsoft.

You can see an example of this new feature in action above, where a photo of a bunch of Post-its on the wall is taken at an angle. Pix is able to straighten out the Post-its so you can better read the text scribbled on the note.

This image correction technology and the other algorithms involved were already being used in another Microsoft app, Office Lens. That app, released a couple of years ago, lets you take photos of whiteboards and documents for easy sharing to OneDrive, or for conversion into editable Office documents, like Word or PowerPoint files.

Of course, many other apps can correct images like this as well, whether that’s an app that helps you snap photos of business cards or receipts, like Evernote’s Scannable, or those designed to help you archive old, printed photos into the cloud, like Google’s PhotoScan.

What’s more notable, then, about Microsoft Pix’s update is that it’s adding this feature into a more fully functional camera app, rather than one that has a singular purpose of working with business files. In addition to these image correction tools for productivity’s sake, the app also includes a suite of photo editing tools, including those that let you apply Prisma-like styles to photos. (Unfortunately, we’ve noticed the app crashes when you try to use those on the soon-to-be released iOS 11, so be warned. Hopefully a fix will arrive before iOS 11 is released to the public.)

Along with the new productivity tools, today’s update also ships with a set of effects that can be applied to images of whiteboards and documents, like those that can add lines to a whiteboard to make it look like a piece of notebook paper, for example.

These effects leverage the same style transfer technology that turns photos into art, from the update earlier this year.

“The team had this idea that the styles we shipped a few months ago shouldn’t be limited to just fun photos,” said Josh Weisberg, a principal program manager in the Computational Photography Group within Microsoft’s research organization in Redmond, Washington, in an announcement about the new version of Pix

“So we built a number of effects that are more appropriate for these productivity types,” he said.

The updated app is live on the iOS App Store.

Microsoft Pix can now turn your iPhone photos into art, thanks to artificial intelligence


Microsoft is rolling out an update to its AI-powered photo editing app, Microsoft Pix, that aims to give Prisma and others like it some new competition. While the app was originally designed to enhance your iPhone photos by tweaking things like color, exposure and other variables, the newly updated Microsoft Pix will now let you have a little more fun with your photos, too – this time, by turning them into art.

Similar to Prisma, the new app introduces a feature called Pix Styles, which allows you to transform your photos into works of art, and use other effects. For example, one effect will make the picture look like it’s on fire. These are not photo filters, to be clear – the styles actually transfer texture, pattern and tones to the photo, explains Microsoft.

The app launches today with 11 styles included, but more will be added in the weeks ahead, the company says.

Also like Prisma, you can swipe your finger across the style to increase or reduce the effect. When you’re done, you can frame the photo, crop it, or share it out to social networks, as before.

Another new feature – Pix Paintings – takes a step beyond Prisma, Lucid, Pikazo, Dreamscope and other “photo-to-art” apps, as it lets you see a time-lapse of the photo being painted in the artistic style you selected. This is more entertaining than it is practical, but it’s a nifty trick.

Microsoft says that the new features were developed in collaboration with Microsoft’s Asia research lab and Skype, and leverage an A.I. processing approach called deep neural networks. This is what’s used to train large datasets. For Pix, that means lots of paintings were used to train the A.I. in order to learn the various styles.

It’s also the same technology that Google experimented with in order to produce a new kind of trippy, machine-created art – some of which it showed off at an exhibit last year.

“These are meant to be fun features,” said Josh Weisberg, a principal program manager in the Computational Photography Group within Microsoft’s research organization in Redmond, in an announcement. “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,” he says.

Also worth noting is that these new features can be used without tapping into your phone’s data plan, or while your phone is offline. That’s because Pix works directly on your device itself to run its calculations – it doesn’t need to access the cloud. This is part of a broader effort at Microsoft to shift A.I. from the cloud to devices at the edge of the network, the company says.

The app is a free download on the App Store.