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If you weren’t convinced yet that artificial intelligence will eventually be able to do pretty much anything, Snapchat is about to show you just how powerful machine learning can be — for free. Today, the popular social media app is adding a new lens called Time Machine that’s capable of aging and de-aging your face as seen through your smartphone.
Like other Snap augmented reality lenses, Time Machine is designed to look simple: All you need to do is move a slider from left to right to see your face age on a timeline. Moving left lets you “wind back the clock,” changing the proportions of your face and removing any facial hair, while moving right lets you “add on the years,” including seeing hair recede and go gray, eyes narrow, and skin lines grow. As a word of warning, tread lightly: though it’s not wholly accurate at guessing how your face gets “younger,” you might not be ready to see yourself older with puffy, spotty skin, either.
Despite the easy interface, it’s a powerful collection of visual transformations to apply all at once — and in real time. Even including smooth transition animations, the complete end-to-end process all happens in less than one second, which is particularly impressive given the limitations of smartphone processors and cameras. You also have the option to flip from the front camera to the rear one, applying the effect to a friend’s face or someone you see on TV. Photos and videos from the process can be saved as memories or exported as you prefer.
Time Machine is just the latest in a string of several AI-powered lenses that use small but well-trained machine learning models to create realistic facial effects on mobile devices. Back in May, the company’s baby face and gender swap filters made a splash, with the former enabling real-time shifts of adult faces into children; now Time Machine will go even further.
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The new lens is available now through Snapchat’s Lens Carousel for free. It can be accessed by tapping on the screen within the app’s camera section and selecting the Time Machine icon with cartoony baby and senior faces. Like Snapchat itself, the lens is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
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