Russian app Prisma, which popularized the use of deep learning-powered photo filters, is launching a new feature that works with Facebook Live. An update to the Prisma app will let users start broadcasting via Facebook, with the option to apply one of eight Prisma filters to their live streams. There are limitations, though, the biggest being that this feature is only currently available on the iPhone 6S and 7. Prisma’s creators say this is because applying the filters to video live takes considerable processing power and only newer hardware can handle it.
Google and Facebook have their own art filters waiting in the wings
But although Prisma’s iOS and Android app has made selfies in the style of famous paintings a common sight on Instagram, the company's take on the traditional filter has quickly become commoditized. Prisma itself based its app on an open-source program called DeepArt, and the underlying technique (known in the AI community as "style transfer") is easy to replicate. Google has shown off its own prototype style transfer software, and earlier today Facebook unveiled its own style transfer filters, which work with images, videos, and live broadcasts, and will be available in the US some time soon.
When asked whether the company was worried by the competition, Prisma CEO Alexey Moiseenkov told The Verge that it only proved how popular the filters are. Said Moiseenkov: "We're happy that big tech companies are working on style transfer. We are not worried or afraid. We are just working and getting better every day."
The company has a long list of improvements it aims to bring to Prisma in the near future, including the ability to choose any aspect ratio (currently only square photos are allowed), support for GIFs, and the ability to do offline video processing on Android. The company is also promising the app will be "more social" in future, although exactly what that means isn’t clear.
There was some speculation that Prisma might be acquired (Moiseenkov visited Facebook’s HQ earlier this year), but it seems for the moment the company is trying to strike out on its own. Earlier this year it introduced its first sponsored filter for Uber rival Gett, and says it can do the same for its Facebook Live-compatible filters. Sponsored filters have been a big hit for Snapchat, but Prisma will need to move very fast to keep users interested and out-maneuver the likes of Facebook and Google.