Technic: Improving image quality with artificial intelligence

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In recent decades, images have become such a significant factor that practically all media can now be described as visual media. Images and graphics have traditionally played a central role in print media, but digital channels have also become indispensable outside of print.   

As images have become more important, the significance of text has diminished. Figures show that only 20% of newspaper readers read more than the first paragraph of an article. We scan books rather than reading them carefully. In an advertisement, we pay attention to the picture and the headline for a mere two seconds and hardly ever read the text. Instead, images have become increasingly important in all areas of daily life.

It is therefore not surprising that images are a very productive field for artificial intelligence. However, it’s not always just about spectacular photo creations or fakes. Many professional AI applications tend to work in the background – invisible to users, but incredibly useful.

Classifying images using AI …

At the Online Print Symposium 2024, Thomas Beguin reported on the development of an AI for photo selection, which he developed in 2013 with his company Resnap and which has thoroughly shaken up the established market for photo products. The AI-based Resnap software uses algorithms in EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) photo data to classify submitted images according to objects and quality and performs facial recognition in order to make an appropriately emotional image selection based on facial expressions. With this software, Resnap achieved the first self-learning AI image selection technology to be used in an automated photo book generator.

“Reducing the average time it takes to create a photo book from hours to a few minutes has completely turned the market on its head,” he said. Although Beguin sold the company to the albelli-Photobox Group in 2017, the program is still used to create photo books. The company produces and distributes photo gift items such as photo books, calendars, canvases and wall decorations, cards, calendars and prints throughout Europe. The albelli-Photobox Group, parent company of posterXXL, has been known as the Storia group since February 2024 and, according to its own figures, serves 11 million customers and generates revenue of 340 million euros.

… and improve them in no time at all

However, companies like Storia and all the other providers of photo products have a common problem: only rarely are perfect or at least sufficient quality images uploaded, especially for photo book production. The quality is often lacking, the images are too pixelated, blurred, underexposed or overexposed or even photographed with unwanted backlighting. Anyone who has to deal with thousands of such images every day has to be prepared for complaints – even if they are not responsible for the quality of the images.

Servi Pieters from Viesus AG, a spin-off of Swiss Imaging Solutions AG, wants to counteract this and minimize suboptimal image quality and prints with algorithms and AI. The AI technology from Viesus analyzes images, checks and corrects their brightness, contrast and colors, scales them using AI, removes artifacts, reduces noise and corrects skin tones.

However, care must be taken to ensure that the AI does not exaggerate and “hallucinate”, explained Servi Pieters at OPS 2024. The software is also able to extract images from PDFs, process them accordingly and reposition them. Above all, the speed is astonishingly high and cannot be compared with manual retouching or image correction.

Specialty scaling of images

There is clearly a great need for image scaling in photographic applications of all kinds, especially in the production of posters. Dr. Davide Righini and his company PiktID are dedicated to this specific problem and to improving images in general. PiktID from Klagenfurt am Wörthersee specializes in innovative solutions for image applications using generative AI.

TagID is an AI image description generator for simple image tagging, EraseID is a technology solution for anonymizing and editing faces, ProductID generates AI-supported backgrounds for image applications and the SuperID software uses AI to enhance photos for precise, high-quality upscaling without noise or blurring. SuperID has specifically addressed the processing of facial features when scaling images. Davide Righini describes the solution as “the best AI scaler and enhancer for faces”.

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Technic: Improving image quality with artificial intelligence
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Technic: Improving image quality with artificial intelligence
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In recent decades, images have become such a significant factor that practically all media can now be described as visual media. Images and graphics have traditionally played a central role in print media, but digital channels have also become indispensable outside of print. As images have become more important, the significance of text has diminished. Figures show that only 20% of newspaper readers read more than the first paragraph of an article.
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Beyond-print.net

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