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Facebook Is Developing A Harry Potter-Style System That Makes Your Profile Pictures Smile And Wink

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Facebook is developing new ‘reactive profile pictures‘ that pull faces like the cheeky portraits at Hogwarts in Harry Potter.

The new feature will make your photo smile and wink in response to likes and comments on your page.

The tool can take a single image of a face and animate it with happy, sad or angry expressions by mapping it to the movement of real people’s faces.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, Israel, developed the software, called ‘bringing portraits to life‘, alongside Facebook.




While the effect looks slightly bizarre, a study found half of people who saw the animations were tricked into thinking they were real.

The system is improving all the time, the researchers said. “I think eventually they will be completely indistinguishable from real videos,” lead researcher Hadar Averbuch-Elor said.

The tool creates animations using a ‘base‘ video of a completely different person. The ‘model‘ does not have to be the same gender or look anything like the person in the profile photo.

The expression the model makes is mapped directly onto the eyes, mouth, cheeks and other parts of the profile photo’s face so that it looks like animated movement.

But the animations aren’t perfect – when people smile their mouth often goes from tight-lipped to a toothy grin.

But from a single image the software doesn’t know what the subject’s teeth look like.

It therefore has to map the pearly whites of the base video onto the profile photo to match up the expressions.

We found that if we change the teeth people don’t notice too much,” Ms Averbuch-Elor, who is a PhD student at the university, said.

In a set of videos about the new feature, the tam showcased several ways Facebook could use the moving pictures in future.

Ahead of the project’s Facebook collaboration, in future the tool could be linked with AI language processing when you are messaging someone.

This means that, rather than a static image, your recipient will see an animated version of the person reacting to what’s being said.

The software will be presented at the Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Bangkok, Thailand later this month.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

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