Beautification Engine Turns Cultural Bias Into Pretty Pictures

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—68 different beholders in the case of Tommer Leyvand's new "beautification engine." The software, featured in a story in the New York Times, takes preferences from a poll of 68 men and women from Israel and Germany who looked at pictures and chose the most beautiful subjects. Measuring common traits like smaller eyes, rounder chins and higher foreheads, it applies those rules of attractiveness, Photoshop-style, to images of other faces. If need be, it can do a full-on virtual nip-tuck-and-slice yet in some cases, the beautification engine won't change a thing.

In the top shot, you can see how the girl's face has been radically altered. Many people I know would of course find the face on the right beautiful, but you can't help but be shocked at the overall impact that a few minor feature alterations can have on the appearance of a face.

In some cases, it's just funny, like Woody Allen here:
In case you couldn't tell, the machine judged that Allen is, for the most part, devastatingly handsome, but that nose of his just had to be trimmed.

I am not sure what that says about the panel of judges. I wonder what would happen if a beauty poll of 100 different countries was used to create the rules. Maybe we'd discover a universal concept of beauty. Or maybe we'd learn that with so many opinions of beauty, nothing would need changing.

In the short term, the computer doesn't say a lot that Hollywood can't already tell us. Shots of James Franco, for instance, go through the process untouched, while the nerdier Michael Cera gets more of a going over. Check out these shots and more, plus the full story of Leyvand's software. [NYT via BBG]

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