Holiday Season Gift Ideas (1): 3D Greeting Cards

It is holiday season. Have you got a good idea to send a surprise gift to your love or your friends? Have you thought about computer vision and graphics technologies could help?

Snapily recently came up with a brilliant idea for your holiday gifts by using computer vision and graphics technologies. Users can upload your pictures, choose one of the special effects (3D, Morph or Flip) and have moderate user interaction, a customized card will be ready for you. Here is an overview of this technology.


Three core technologies enable Snapily’s success in 3D printing business:

1. Image/Video synthesis: 

This includes image inpainting and image warping/morphing.

Image Inpainting: also image interpolation, a standard technique to modify an image, e.g., for restoration of damaged photos, in an undetectable form. The way that 3D effect works is that users first manually draw a segmentation mask, which segments the foreground out. When the foreground object is moving (e.g., panning), there will be some unfilled holes left in the background. Then image inpainting is employed to fill out the holes in the background based on context objects/textures. This is also known as texture synthesis in computer graphics. 

Here is an example of making 3D effects of a picture.

(From left to right: input image, image segmentation mask with moderate user interaction, one of the synthesized images)

Note that the red arrow denotes some synthesis artifacts along the interface of sky and water. 

Image Morphing: also image warping, a standard technique to modify one image to another based on a set of corresponding points through a seamless transition. A set of intermediate image frames are synthesized based on different blending weights of two images.

 (From left to right: input image “Bush” with user labeled facial feature correspondence; input image “Obama” with user labeled facial feature correspondence (8 pairs of correspondences); one of the frames for the transition from “Bush” to “Obama”) 

2. OmniStereo® Technology for 3D Panoramic Stereo

The OmniStereo® Technology was originally from HumanEyes. Traditional method such as lenticular imaging needs capturing multiple views of the object, and therefore special camera is required. Here, the core of the OmniStereo technology is the invention of “circular projection”. As described in the white paper:

…the OmniStereo technology creates panoramic images having a circular projection by mosaicing a sequence of input images taken by a camera rotating on an arm. Mosaicing for the creation of panoramic stereo pairs provides the ability to create panoramic pictures of up to 360º.

3. Lenticular Printing

Once the multiview images or image sequences are generated, lenticular printing then combines them into a single “interlaced” picture.  The interlaced picture is then covered with a lenticular plastic sheet, such that it exhibits stereoscopic “depth”, as each eye sees a different view.

Future Improvements

What a wonderful product! Can we make it better? We would expect Snapily’s future products improve on the following aspects in the future:

1. Structure based texture synthesis: more complex texture synthesis algorithm can be used to improve image inpainting artifacts due to image structures.

2. Automatic facial feature detection. To reduce the amount of manual work of users, automatic facial feature detection is desired. Extensive study has been done in this area and many existing algorithms can do a good job. Plus there is human in the loop. Users can manually correct the feature points which are mistakenly detected. By doing so, a lot of manual work can be saved. 

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