This algorithm automatically de-clutters your photos

Defusing photobombs

It's always a pain when you take a beautiful photo and fail to notice the ugly coke can lying on the grass until you get home. But new software could let your computer automatically remove that and other distractions.

Right now, most photo editing software allows you to manually remove distracting elements, but doing it automatically with one-click could extend the benefits to those less inclined to spend hours fussing over their images in Photoshop. The program has been developed at Princeton University in collaboration with Adobe.

The software works out what can be removed from examples set in a database of 1,073 images that were manually reviewed by people on Amazon's Mechanical Turk system, and from more than 5,000 images retouched in an app called Fixel.

"It might be a photobomb"

"We have a specific car detector in the code because people often want to eliminate cars that wander into the frame," said Ohad Fried, lead author of the paper describing the discovery. "We have a face detector. If the face is large and in the center of the photo, we probably don't want to remove it. But if it is coming in from the side, it might be a photobomb."

The results so far have been promising, though the team has also come across a few instructive failures. "In the future, it might become accurate enough to be used in a photo editing product," Fried said. "Right now, it is a very interesting research question."