CSIRO makes selfies useful for online shopping

National science agency's Smart Vision technology turns self-portraits into 3D facial models.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

While former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd resumes lurking on the backbench of federal parliament, the nation's most prolific selfie subject can now at least turn his self-photography talents to online shopping.

Image: Glasses.com

Today, the CSIRO announced that it has filed a series of patents for its Smart Vision technology that turns a series of self-portraits into a three-dimension model of the user's face.

"While pictures can tell us a thousand words, they certainly don't tell us the whole story," said Simon Lucey, group research leader for the CSIRO's digital productivity and services.

"Our computer modelling experts have developed a more accurate and reliable way to create a 3D scan of a person's face using newly developed algorithms that can turn 2D images from a mobile camera into a 3D model of the face."

As the CSIRO's demonstration video shows, the model is created from three images, a front-on shot, and a pair of photos from the user turning to their right and left.

This technology will not take off overnight and be found on every retail site across the web, though, as the CSIRO has signed an exclusive arrangement with Glasses.com, which combined the technology for use in its app.

"Up until now, augmented reality was something of a parlour trick," said Jonathan Coon, CEO of Glasses.com's parent company 1-800 CONTACTS. "It was fun, but just not accurate or easy enough to be useful. Our hope is that the Glasses.com app will be to augmented-reality shopping what 'Toy Story' was for computer-generated animated films."

The CSIRO says that future applications of the technology may include improving video conferencing or video gaming communication.

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