Algorithm determines your ‘perfect selfie’

07 August 2017

An app for the 'perfect selfie' | Credit: Dan Vogel/the University of Waterloo

Introducing the smartphone app whose algorithm – created using a virtual camera and computer-generated lighting – helps people learn the art of taking great selfies.

The app’s algorithm, by the University of Waterloo, directs the user where to position the camera, allowing them to take the best shot possible.

Says the University's professor of computer science, Dan Vogel: “Selfie’s have increasingly become a normal way for people to express themselves and their experiences – only not all selfies are created equal. Unlike other apps that enhance a photo after you take it, this system gives direction, meaning the user is actually learning why their photo will be better.”

In developing the algorithm, the researchers bought 3D digital scans of ‘average-looking’ people. They took hundreds of virtual selfies by writing code to control a virtual smartphone camera and computer-generated lighting which allowed them to explore different composition principles, including lighting direction, face position and face size.

An app for the 'perfect selfie' | Credit: Dan Vogel/the University of Waterloo

Using an online crowdsourcing service, the researchers had thousands of people vote on which of the virtual selfie photos they felt were best, and then mathematically modelled the patterns of votes to develop an algorithm that can guide people to take the best selfie.

They later had real people take selfies with a standard camera app, and an app powered by the algorithm. Based on more online ratings, they found a 26 per cent improvement in selfies taken with Waterloo’s app.

“This is just the beginning of what is possible,” said Vogel. “We can expand the variables to include variables aspects such as hairstyle, types of smile or even the outfit you wear.

“When it comes to teaching people to take better selfies, the sky’s the limit.”

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