Technology

Facebook wants to fix your crooked 360-photos

Facebook wants you to post more 360-degree photos. Earlier this week, the company announced it would allow people to capture the spherical shots and set them as their cover photo right from the app.

Problem is, 360-degree photos are a lot trickier to capture than a regular photo. Because it can difficult to keep the camera straight while you capture the image, the photos often look crooked, which, well, doesn’t look great on Facebook.

That’s why the social network’s researchers are working on a way to use Facebook’s AI tech to automatically fix 360-degree photos. It’s still in a research phase for now, but, judging by some of their early results the method looks pretty promising.

THE ORIGINAL, CROOKED, IMAGE.
CORRECTED USING FACEBOOK’S NEW METHODS.

You can read more about the specifics of how this works over on Facebook’s blog, but essentially the researchers trained a neural network by showing it a load of straight images and ones that were tilted. In doing so, the system was able to learn how to make the right adjustments automatically.

The researchers note that fixing problems of perspective is relatively easy with conventional photo-editing tools, but doing so with 360-degree images is a much different task.

“One of the most basic features of a 360 photo that breaks realism is when it is captured while the camera is not level and the resulting image rotation is not corrected,” Facebook’s Matt Uyttendaele writes.

“Fixing this kind of rotation with editing software is straightforward for traditional photos, but the same types of tools are not widely available for 360 photos, and correcting rotation on a sphere is much less intuitive.”

That makes the early results all the more impressive. Again, this is still just an early project, and there’s likely still work to be done before a tool like this is ready for Facebook’s masses.

But considering Facebook’s interest in 360-degree photos and videos, it seems like Facebook’s tech is likely to improve well before our collective ability to shoot straight photos does.


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