Microsoft’s experimental project wing Garage has announced a new iOS app that turns physical collections into digital archives. The app, called Thinga.Me, is currently in an invite-only beta, with no set release date in sight.
The app revolves around digital shelves that showcase photos of each object in the user's collection. Thinga.Me automatically generates sticker-like cutouts of each object, giving collections a more tangible feel than a typical photo grid. "This simple act of removing an item from its background starts to make it feel less like a photo and more like a physical thing," says Microsoft. To further bring collections to life, the app displays collections in a variety of skeuomorphic environments such as a wooden bookshelf or a bulletin board. Once users finish a collection, they can share it with friends or on the Thinga.Me featured collections page.
Thinga.Me is betting big on machine vision to set it apart from the vast host of existing cataloging apps available for iOS. The object cutouts are essentially the only feature setting it apart from options like Boxes or Sortly, which already offer easy solutions for digitizing and organizing physical collections. While it is unclear whether automatic photo cutouts will be a killer feature or ephemeral novelty for Thinga.Me, it is definite evidence of the growing popularity of machine vision in consumer applications. Snapchat, Google, and Twitter have all recently acquired machine learning startups to help smartphone cameras recognize physical objects. You can request access to the beta here; in the meantime, keep on faceswapping to satisfy your appetite for augmented reality fun.