The Life of a Digital Photo

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My latest tech toy is an HP Scanjet 5530 Photosmart Scanner (wow that's a mouthful). The defining feature of this scanner is the photo feeder built in. Simply add a pile of photos (around 24 max at a time) into the feeder, press a button, and go watch your Tivo'd episode of 24 while your photos scan (it doesn't take all that long).

The incessant creaking of my bookshelf as it strains under the load of my accumulated photos spurred me to purchase this scanner. Having shuttled around the planet while growing up, it's important to me to archive the memories of the havoc I created.

To that end, I also spent a lot of time searching for the perfect photo organizational software. The ideal program would have a clean nice interface and allow me to tag photos, organize photos into albums, search with face and image recognition, and automatically fix bad hair-day pics. I ended up purchasing Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0, which I'm quite happy with, though it doesn't have image recognition (nobody really does just yet) and won't fix my bad hair (a lost cause).

However, this new memo from Microsoft Research describes several advances that Microsoft is working on that will make their way into future products. Examples include image recognition, improved ability to fix red-eye and cut people from one photo and paste into another. One neat feature that currently works in Asian versions of Office 2003 can convert a picture of a person into a cartoon character with pretty good resemblance. Currently it only works for asian faces. I have to admit, I'm very excited.

Read about it here to see the examples.

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