Quick Reviews

Behind Snapchat’s Inane Filters.

All Snapchat users are aware of their hilarious, scary, cute filters. Just recently I decided to try them out and was truly fascinated by how they recognized my facial features in real-time. Many people may find them silly, ridiculous or cool but the architecture and engineering behind these filters or lenses as Snapchat calls them, is no joke.

The technology that made all this come to be is Looksery, a Ukrainian startup that snapchat acquired back in late 2015 for a booming $150 million. Snapchat’s filters are tap into the largely growing field of Computer vision (Applications that use camera pixels to interpret objects and 3D space.), which in layman’s is how Facebook knows who is in your photos, or how self driving cars know how not to hit people or objects and of course, how you give yourself bunny ears.

 

Computers don’t exactly “see” like the human brain does.

How my face appears to a compute
How my face appears to the human brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Viola-Jones algorithm is the tool that computers use to detect faces, The theory behind this tool is looking for areas of contrast, for instance the eye-sockets are darker than the forehead and the middle part of the forehead is lighter than the sides of it. If these tests find enough matches in one area of an image it concludes that is a face, which is why cameras put boxes around a face.

However, in order for the filters to be placed appropriately on a face, the app needs to do more than detect the face.It should also locate facial features. According to Looksery’s patents, this is made possible by a statistical model of a face shape that has been trained by people manually marking the facial features on thousands of images. The algorithm uses this trained data as a “template” because it is never a perfect fit.The algorithm adjusts the points of the template to match those of your face.These points are used as coordinates to create a mesh, which is a 3D mask that can rotate,move and scale along with your face as the video data comes in for every frame. Once they’ve got that, they can do a lot to the face mask like change the face shape, eye-color and trigger animations once you open your mouth or raise your eyebrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This technology is not new, but setting it to work in real-time on mobile devices is pretty recent. I have to say as much as these filters may seem inane, they are pretty impressive form a technical point of view. 🙂

Can’t wait to see the next step in Computer Vision.

video_2017-04-19_00-13-27

Cheerio:)

WORDPRESS ON HEROKU VS ON AMAZON (AWS)

Some say it is human nature to go for options that avoid incurrence of charges, or preferring to try out something first before being charged for it.

Blogging has sort of become a way of life in this world. It is how people all over the world share their thoughts, ideas and opinions on any topic they could think of.

New blogs come up every day and most likely a new blogger would not want to always incur monthly hosting charges (which is common for most hosting sites) for his/her site, and good thing is, they actually don’t have to, thanks to Heroku and Amazon (hosting sites popular for their reliable free tier of at least a year). Among the many advantages of word press, it can be deployed on both but either has its pros and cons.

 

Heroku pros

  • It has a free tier (probably the best pro 😛 )
  • Zerigo provides an excellent DNS service for custom domain via the Zerigo DNS add-on

 

Heroku Cons

  • Out of every 24 hours, the free tier has to sleep for 6 hours (So a site would be down for a continuous 6 hours)
  • Installation of themes and plugins is abit tedious because they have to be installed locally then manually pushed to the Heroku file system.
  • As much as its free though, it is not as powerful as the paid version and there are some features that the paid version has and the free one doesn’t.

 

 

Amazon pros

  • (As usual I’ll start with what we’d want to hear) It’s free for a year.
  • Installation of themes and plugins is not manual. It can be done via the admin panel. (another one of my all-time favorites)
  • The site is always online 😀

 

Amazon cons

  • Manual set-up of php, MySQL and WordPress (done only once though so it is not such major con).
  • Handling of software updates
  • Server maintenance (which is actually not as hard as it might sound because the server is virtual).
  • Amazon’s free tier is also limited in performance compared to the paid version.

 

Personally I’d go for AWS (amazon). Its pros outweigh its cons and it doesn’t require so much handiwork, so someone doesn’t really have to be an IT guru to use it. I’ve used it and so far so good, it has not disappointed.

So for any new/ upcoming bloggers out there, there’s a really cheap and reliable way to begin.