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HourFace: The picture of Dorian Gray in an app

David Winograd

HourFace [US $.99 iTunes Link] is a very neat little novelty app. I'm told that it's the top selling app in Japan. HourFace uses your camera or your photo library to take or choose a head shot. It then uploads the picture to its server which turns it into a very realistic moving 3D image with the face naturally moving and eyes that blink. If you touch part of the screen, the face will move in that direction. The effect is startling.

The neat part is that app makes your 3D face younger or older depending how you hold your device, using the accelerometer. Tilt the screen up and the face gets younger. Tilt it down and the face gets older. Keeping the bar in the middle shows you the default age of the the face. You can also move the blue bar yourself with a finger. HourFace works on any iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.0 or better

The app is quite picky when it comes to taking pictures or using them from your photo library. If there are more than one person in the picture only one person will age. If the face not exactly what the app expects, you'll get a message telling you that it can't find a face, even if the whole picture is a face. You are informed that the ideal photo faces directly ahead, has its mouth closed, be not too bright or dark, show a visible forehead and not be wearing glasses.

I found that more than half of the pictures I took or were in my photo library worked well, while the rest didn't. You are also given the option of emailing the image.

I don't know how much utility I'll be getting from the app, but I like it very much for what it is, which is is an eerily realistic graphic manipulation.

Take a look at the video below, and give it shot. It's worth a buck for the entertainment value and the result is amazingly real.

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  • Note: As of testing the app about 20 minutes before the post is scheduled to go live, I found that pictures will upload, but it gets stuck on 'processing', eventually timing out. My uneducated guess is that their servers are temporarily down.

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