Turn yourself into an alien avatar with PhotoAvatar

David Winograd
D. Winograd|03.18.10

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Turn yourself into an alien avatar with PhotoAvatar
PhotoAvatar (US $.99) is a remarkable iPhone/iPod touch novelty app from the makers of HourFace, an app I liked quite a lot when I reviewed it a few months ago. PhotoAvatar turns a properly taken photo into any one of three alien avatars, each so realistic that it's eerie.

Using a carefully taken photo snapped by the camera or taken from a photo library, you decide on which alien you want to be and the app does the rest. The picture gets transformed into an amazingly realistic 3D moving image. The result can be emailed or saved to the camera roll. But the creepiest part is watching the image on the screen. It's constantly in motion, blinking, turning, glaring and growling at you. If you swipe your finger over the image, the avatar will follow your finger. If you tap the screen, the image will stretch and audibly growl at you. If you shake the device, you'll get another animation.

This app is very simple to use and limited in usefulness, but for once, I don't think that matters since the results are really something to behold. I watched an avatar without touching the screen for a few minutes and regardless of what I knew, I was just about convinced that the image was real. You really need to see this gem for yourself and a buck is a fair price to show you something that you haven't yet seen in such a realistic manner.

PhotoAvatar has the same limitations of HourFace when taking or using a picture. The photo needs to look directly ahead, not be wearing glasses, have a visible forehead, a closed mouth and not be too light or dark. I found about half of the photos I tried from my photo library worked and half didn't, bringing up a screen detailing the specs I just noted. But when it works, it's incredible.

The only thing I would like to see added to the app is the ability to output a properly sized avatar file to be used with Twitter, Facebook, etc. The marketing text makes it clear that this is one of the purposes of the app, so I can't see why PhotoAvatar can't output such an image.

Take a look at this gallery where you can see my source picture and what PhotoAvatar did with it. Then, click the 'read more' link to watch the video since you really need to see it in action.

I'd buy it right now as one of the best graphic implementations yet.


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