A View from Rachel Metz
Become Horrifying With Baidu’s Creepy, Cool Face-Morphing AI App
Baidu Research’s FaceYou app uses facial tracking to blend your face with a zombie’s, and the results are surprisingly good.
I don’t have a costume picked out for Halloween yet, but a free iPhone app rolled out on Wednesday by Chinese Internet giant Baidu’s research division makes that unnecessary, at least for sharing creepy photos and videos of myself online.
Called FaceYou, the app takes advantage of face-tracking technology and techniques like image blending to overlay one of several faces–that of a zombie, president, skeleton, pig, or others–on top of your own. When you move your face a bit, change facial expressions, or speak, your digital mask moves in sync with the real you, in real time on your smartphone’s display. You can make photos or videos of yourself looking like, say, a zombie whose face is covered in staple-pinched gashes, and share the results with friends.
A video Baidu made shows off a few of these effects, and they’re pretty impressive. The woman in the clip starts out with a zombie face, then switches to a skeleton, some sort of weird mask, and so on.
In a quick test, I was surprised by how well a couple of the faces seemed to morph and work with my own. In one case, when I applied a garishly made-up female face, the eye makeup almost looked real, even as I moved my face around and opened and closed my eyes. I found the human faces looked the most believable on me, and the female ones in particular, which isn’t that surprising (I don’t make a very convincing Bill Clinton or pomeranian, apparently).
If you don’t like any of the included faces, you can take a photo of a face or use one from the snaps in your camera roll. This, I found, makes the whole experience even weirder. Try replacing your face with that of a co-worker or family member and you’ll see what I mean.
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June 11-12, 2019