Photolab


Illustration of a convolutional neural network (CNN), typically used for image classification and recognition.

Our UX team in Google Research explored emerging  technologies in Machine Perception to conceptualize engaging, tangible experiences, and showcase the work  with public launches. We explored the future of computational photography and aimed to find appropriate use cases for AI research within relevant and accessible user experiences.
We built and launched Photolab, a collection of experimental photography apps, with 1M+ downloads. We also developed dozens of ideas and concepts that showcased the imaginative and experimental nature of the new frontier of AI-assisted photography. This work included imagining and prototyping the “Magic Eraser” concept in 2018. In 2021, it shipped as a key feature on Pixel 6.




︎︎︎ Zoop (above): a mini-game that explores challenges of reinforcement learning (RL). RL encourages machines to determine ideal behavior based on a reward system. Typically, a researcher needs to manage and train the system in learning appropriate behaviors. Zoop breaks down training into one task per level (moving forward, jumping, etc.) to illustrate how a machine learns during this process.
︎︎︎ A Story A Day (below): creates one children's story per day. A machine-learning model trained on children's stories would power the experience, plotting a storyline and providing users with opportunities to guide the story by occasionally choosing the ends of sentences, key verbs, or nouns. The illustrations are Quick, Draw! entries from their collection of over 50 million drawings.


︎︎︎ Photolab: In December 2017, our 9-person team at Google AI launched three experimental apps to share and gauge public interest in our work.

Selfissimo [iOS] [Android] explores automating the selfie experience, or relinquishing some control back to the "photographer" behind the camera.
Storyboard transforms users' videos into comics. It selects, composes, and stylizes video frames using experimental ML style transfer technology that runs locally.

Scrubbies
allows users to manipulate the speed and direction of video playback to create non-linear, creative remixes.


︎︎︎Concepts and ideas: In addition to our more public-facing work, we also generated hundreds of ideas around the future of photography, from the purely imaginative to those grounded in visual perception technology from Google AI.
Below are a few examples of early concepts we visualized, including "interactive photos" and a new perspective on slit-scan photography.