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Twitter has bought a machine learning startup that can sharpen real-time video

Twitter has bought a machine learning startup that can sharpen real-time video


Part of the company's efforts to be the home of live events

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Twitter has bought a machine learning startup that can automatically sharpen low-resolution and blurred video in real time. The social network announced this morning that it had acquired London-based Magic Pony Technology for an undisclosed sum, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeting that the move will help the the company reach its goal of "making Twitter the first and best place to see what's happening in the world."

The benefits of Magic Pony's tech are clear for Twitter. Earlier this year, the company unveiled some of its machine learning research, showing how its algorithms can essentially upgrade the resolution of low-res videos using ordinary graphics cards. The Magic Pony team includes 11 PhDs, with their expertise ranging across computer vision, computational neuroscience, and deep learning.

Before (left) and after (right) Magic Pony's algorithms have sharpened a video. (Image credit: Magic Pony via TechCrunch)

"Online video-streaming businesses rely heavily on video compression," Magic Pony's co-founder Rob Bishop told MIT Technology Review in April. "Our first product demonstrates that image quality can be greatly enhanced using deep learning, and fast mobile GPUs now allow us to deploy it anywhere."

Magic Pony can improve pictures taken on low-res cameras

The startup's deep learning algorithms learn what high-resolution textures and terrains look like by automatically scanning and labeling sample imagery. Bishop told Technology Review that Magic Pony's computer vision products can fill in the blanks in videos like Photoshop's auto-fill tool, and improve the image quality of pictures taken on low-resolution cameras. The startup's name reportedly comes from the reaction of an early investor who described their tech as a "magic pony" — something no one would believe without seeing it first.

The startup said in its own announcement that the Magic Pony team would serve as "the European homebase for Twitter's machine learning efforts," and that with the social media firm it wants to "vastly [accelerate] our rate of research." So: less blurry videos on Twitter, sooner. Sounds good.