Skip to main content

Google Brain brings ‘zoom and enhance’ method one step closer to reality

google brain zoom enhance pixel recursive super resolution
The concept of enhancing a pixelated image isn’t new — “zoom and enhance” is responsible for dozens of criminals being put behind bars in shows like Criminal Minds, but that kind of technology has so far evaded the real world. Well, the boffins over at Google Brain have come up with what may be the next best thing.

The new technology essentially uses a pair of neural networks, which are fed an 8 x 8-pixel image and are then able to create an approximation of what it thinks the original image would look like. The results? Well, they aren’t perfect, but they are pretty close.

To be clear, the neural networks don’t magically enhance the original image — rather, they use machine learning to figure out what they think the original could have looked like. So, using the example of a face, the generated image may not look exactly like the real person but instead, a fictional character that represents the computer’s best guess. In other words, law enforcement may not be able to use this technology to produce an image of a suspect using a blurry reflection from a photo of a number plate yet, but it may help the police get a pretty good guess at what a suspect may look like.

As mentioned, two neural networks are involved in the process. The first is called a “conditioning network,” and it basically maps out the pixels of the 8 x 8-pixel image into a similar looking but higher resolution image. That image serves as the rough skeleton for the second neural network, or the “prior network,” which takes the image and adds more details by using other, already existing images that have similar pixel maps. The two networks then combine their images into one final image, which is pretty impressive.

It is likely we will see more and more tech related to image processing in the future — in fact, artificial intelligence is getting pretty good at generating images, and Google and Twitter have both put a lot of research into image enhancing. At this rate, maybe crime-show tech will one day become reality.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
Oops — Google Bard AI demo is disproven by the first search result
A Google blog post discussing its LaMBDA artificial intelligence technology displayed on a smartphone screen.

These are heady days if you’re following the world of artificial intelligence (AI). ChatGPT is taking over the world, Microsoft is adding its tech to Bing, and Google is working on its own AI called Bard.

Except, Bard might not quite be ready for prime time -- and Google just proved it during its own tech demonstration. Oops.

Read more
Google Meet or Zoom? Soon, it won’t matter
Google Meets on an HP Chromebook.

Google has announced support for embedded interoperability on Google Meet and Zoom Room devices at no extra cost, coming later this year.

Soon Google Meets devices will be able to join Zoom meetings, and Zoom Rooms will be able to join Google Meet meetings. It will be as easy to use as clicking on a calendar item or by inserting a meeting code. At launch, administrators will be able to activate this interoperability for their registered devices at no extra cost, while allowing trusted devices to easily join cross-platform calls.

Read more
Reverse wireless charging on the iPhone gets one step closer to reality
Nomad Base One Max charging an iPhone and an Apple Watch.

Reverse charging has been a frequently requested feature among Apple fans for years, but now it seems like the dream might become a reality thanks to a new patent filed by the company.

Reverse charging is a feature that would allow you to charge your iPhone wirelessly using another iPhone. If implemented across all Apple hardware, it could reshape the landscape of low-battery anxiety that many have been facing as more of our lives become dependent on chargeable devices. It's also something that's still missing on the most recent iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.

Read more