In October we released the FaceDecorator App for iOS. This App is using the Fast Face Detection feature which is part of iOS5. The main aim of this App was to test this new feature which enables face detection in real-time. Based on that we are currently developing several other Apps. Even Microsoft seems to like our FaceDecorator. At least Microsoft Research just released their very similar Face Mask. Time to compare the two versions! Which App or OS will win? We know the answer already 🙂
Apple offers real-time face detection
When we were testing the iOS5 pre-release versions we got really excited about the face detection feature. Based on the Core Image Framework for iOS5 and Lion 10.7 Apple realized a really cool and easy to use face detection API. Apple acquired this face detection technology for over $22 million from Polar Rose, a Swedish company known for its face-tagging pictures service and facial recognition software.
By using the face detection API we developed the FaceDecorator App which recognizes faces (multiple face detection included) in real-time. You point your iPhone/iPad camera towards your subject and you can directly apply one of the provided masks. Of course you can do this by using a picture you took before as well.
Both iPhone and iPad users can test this functionality for free by downloading the FaceDecorator App [iTunes link] from the App Store. We decided to offer it for free, so don’t hesitate downloading it. We are looking forward to hear your opinion and wishes for further development.
The Face Mask App needs a lot of processing time
The free Face Mask App for Windows Phone developed by Microsoft Research doesn’t work in real-time. This is probably the biggest difference in between the two Apps. After selecting the picture the App starts analyzing the face for quite a long time. Once the application found the face you can start applying different masks.
Face Mask is a magic tool that enhances your pictures with cool effects. Just take a picture, and add a mask either by a tap or through a shaking gesture. Photos can be saved to your photo library or shared directly on Facebook, Twitter or Sina Weibo.
We don’t know what technology is being used on Windows Phone to realize the face recognition. If you happen to know this, please leave a comment with a link below. But the face analyzing process on Windows Phone appears to be rather resource consuming. Several people claim the App is not working on their phone.
Fortunately, I managed to test it on a Nokia Lumia 800. But I have to admit it’s performing rather slow, whereas it’s performing great on both iPhone and iPad.
Face Mask looks more professional
It’s obvious Microsoft put more effort into the look and feel of the App. The Face Mask App looks great from a design perspective and is rather intuitive. On the other hand we notice many similarities. You would almost think they were highly inspired by our FaceDecorator. Even our Halloween version of the App [iTunes link] can be found in Face Mask’s logo.
Both Apps support social sharing to Facebook and Twitter. Face Mask offers storing the picture on SkyDrive and Sina Weibo (looks like they target the Chinese market as well), but opposite to FaceDecorator it doesn’t offer e-mail sending. Sending a Face Mask image through e-mail needs saving it locally before you can send the image from the Saved Pictures folder.
Why focuses Microsoft on face recognition “toys”?
In reactions on different blogs you can read that Windows Phone users seem not to understand why Microsoft Research is spending their precious time on such “toys” like Face Mask and the some days earlier released Face Swap.
For us developing FaceDecorator was just a fun project to test a new feature. We also have a face swapper app ready to be released. But apart form the fun factor we didn’t feel the real need to release it.
That’s why we are very curious what Microsoft Research will come up with next. We are working on some business applications of this technology. We assume Microsoft will be doing the same.
Guys, if you need help feel free to contact us! We are curious about your opinion about the mentioned apps and especially about thought for different applications of this technology. We invite you to leave your remarks, thoughts and ideas below.