Google Photos has released a new app called PhotoScan, promising to help you move that box of old photo prints to the cloud. Most people consider photos to be very important to them, and important data should be backed up. However, turning old prints into a digital format has never been easy. One way is to scan the photo with a flatbed scanner. This method can result in high-quality scans, but takes a lot of time to get right. Another way is to take a picture of the print with a smartphone. This method is extremely fast to do, but the results are very poor quality. PhotoScan tries to bridge the gap.
The app will first ask you to simply take a picture of the photo print using your smartphone camera. The app will then pull out about 500 to 4,000 “features” of a photo, meaning high-contrast points that it can use as a reference. Once it has its reference points, it will ask you to take four more photos from different positions and different angles to avoid light glares. Then the app uses computational photography techniques to stitch all five images together (kinda like when making panoramas) which results in minimal glare. Finally, the app will automatically crop, rotate, and color correct the image and save it in your Google Photos collection. Once this is done, you can quickly move onto the next photo.
PhotoScan is trying to get people to migrate their prints to the cloud. “These photos are at risk,” said David Lieb, product development lead for Google Photos “They’re at risk of being lost when you move, they’re at risk of fires, floods, and theft. And with every day that passes they fade away a bit — they literally fade away.” But of course, this is also a huge bonus for Google Photos because this product is tightly integrated into the Photos app. And Google Photos competitors like Apple, don’t seem to have a similar product to PhotoScan.
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