Adobe's new algorithm can erase tourists from your photos in real time

Adobe has unveiled an app that takes pesky tourists out of your vacation photos within seconds, as you take them.

Tourist-deleting photo technology could make your next vacation a lot less frustrating

The ancient Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece is a popular destination for tourists — many of whom will later find this historic landmark obscured by other tourists in their vacation photos. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

From the masterminds who gave us a way to fake flawless photos of ourselves — and pretty much anything else our hearts desire — comes a new technology designed to enhance the pictures we take of landmarks, by ridding them of tourists.

Introducing "Monument Mode" by Adobe, an algorithm that can purportedly let you take a clear shot of anything, even in the most crowded locations.

"I've come here from India and I really want to take a photo of L.A.'s famous Hollywood sign, but I've been finding that very difficult to do," said Adobe engineer Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma while unveiling the app prototype in California last week.

"The problem is other tourists," he continued. "Whether it's the Tahj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower, it's always difficult to get that perfect monumental landmark shot thanks to other tourists who keep moving around and blocking the view."

He then proceeded to demonstrate how the technology works in real time as comedian Nick Offerman jumped into, and was then almost-instantly erased from, a series of photos taken onstage at the company's annual MAX conference.

According to Adobe, the feature is possible thanks to a new algorithm that can distinguish moving objects (like tourists and cars) from fixed ones (like the Grand Canyon).

"One click and those obstructions are gone for good," reads the caption of a "Sneak Peek" video published by the company after Sharma's presentation.

The video bills Monument Mode as an "early technology" and clarifies that it "isn't available in the Creative Cloud yet."

Still, despite the absence of a release date or even any indication as to which products Monument Mode may be built into, many on Twitter seem stoked about the algorithm's existence.

After all, as The Verge's Rich McCormick notes, "the company has a history of swiftly incorporating technology shown off at its MAX conferences. Adobe first detailed its 'dehaze' feature during the same segment at last year's show — it now comes as standard in Lightroom."

Some have taken to pointing out that Adobe has already been offering the tools, namely Photoshop, needed to remove people from images for many years. 

"What makes the new feature so interesting is the ability to generate the expected image in real time," explains the Daily Dot's AJ Dellinger. "It allows the photographer to take a picture of its subject as if no one else is around, making it easier to get the shot they want on the first try instead of continuously snapping and hoping one turns out."

A boon for photographers, surely — but the result is still just an illusion. Photoshop can't actually whiten your teeth, and Monument Mode can only remove the tourists from your photos. 


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