'Beauty machine' gives one-click makeover

Before or after the 'beauty machine? Answers on a postcard...
Before or after the 'beauty machine? Answers on a postcard...

Forget red-eye reduction and blink removal, the next generation of in-camera portrait tweaks will turn ordinary faces in cover models.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have created a 'beauty machine' - software that automatically and subtly tweaks portraits to make their subjects look more attractive.

"Beauty is not simply in the eye of the beholder," says lead researcher Professor Daniel Cohen-Or. "It can be defined as average distances between features, which a majority of people agree are the most beautiful."

Beauty by numbers

Professor Cohen-Or asked 68 people to rank the beauty of 93 men's and women's faces. These scores were then correlated to 250 different measurements and facial features, such as ratios of the nose, chin and distance from ears to eyes.

From this, the scientists created an algorithm that applies desirable elements of attractiveness to a fresh image.

He expects the technology to be used by plastic surgeons touting for business, fashion magazine editors hoping to make their readers feel insecure, and camera makers looking for the next bit of digital nonsense to squeeze into bloated snappers.

You can see some examples of the 'beauty machine' in action at www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7899, but be warned, Professor Cohen-Or is no looker himself.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.