Gumpifier - adding absent buddies to pics
The collaboration was a project to create a web-based AI tool that we called “The Gumpifier”: The Gumpifier will allow the user to input an image of themselves, along with a photo of a background scene, and will automatically insert their picture into the scene in a realistic manner.
We wanted to explore the use of Deep Learning in image processing and also to think about the The UX of AI. Argon Design developed the neural networks for the project Dovetailed designed the interaction model for users.
After a joint brainstorm, we at Dovetailed began to research similar AI experiments and tools: Google's library of fun AI experiments was a great source of inspiration and fun around the office. Argon Design provided a proof of concept which gave an idea of how the Gumpifier would function, however, the user interface (UI) of the Gumpifier was far from decided. Our goal with the Gumpifier was to maintain a simple and playful UI that used familiar patterns and gestures. The Gumpifier is a fun tool that shouldn't require a steep learning curve or loads of text to use. We went through four iterations of the Gumpifier, using internal feedback for the initial designs and testing with real users for the final two iterations.
Interactive prototypes were especially helpful for testing, as whiteboard sketches don't have quite the same functions digital products do. Once we began testing with digital prototypes it was important to test for any confusion traps by allowing users to make their own judgments of how the Gumpifer would function and accommodating for those uses with the next design iteration. With more testing and time away from the project, I think the next iteration could focus on refining visual elements and having more user input on the AI side (for example, by allowing users to select which elements of an image are part of the foreground or background). Even after the launch of the Gumpifier, we are still looking for user feedback and would love to hear what you have to say!
User Experience of AI
AI is a hot topic that can garner reactions both positive and negative. Rather than the dystopian view of AI as a tool to replace people and eliminate humanity, we believe in a user-centered AI that empowers human flourishing by automating the boring stuff and giving people time to solve the larger issues. In the field of AI ethics, AI that cannot be explained is known as black-box AI. Black-box AI gives us answers without being able to trace how or why it made the decision it did.
User-centered AI is AI that is explainable and seeks to enhance rather than replace humans. During the initial brainstorm for the Gumpifier, we sought to create something that used AI techniques without eliminating user control. The Gumpifier depends on user to make the photo choices and allows users to edit the Gumpified image to whatever parameters they wish. The Gumpifier is merely an assistant, making the process of editing people in and out of photos much quicker and simpler. We have also included an explanation of what the Gumpifier does within the UI when it processes photos to keep users in the loop. In the future, tools that could help unite UX and AI development must be collaborative and creative in nature - maybe a design tool like Sketch that could link to dev tools like Sublime Text in order to demonstrate what AI tools are like to both designers and developers. True user-centered AI is about thinking about the needs of users from the very beginning of a project and ensuring that humans are the ones who will benefit most from your use of AI.
You can read more about the AI underpining gumpifier by checking out Argon Design' blog post at http://www.gumpifier.com/blogPost.html. We are also open-sourcing the code which is available on our GitHub repository at https://github.com/ArgonDesign/gumpifier.
With thanks to Hai-Dao Le-Nguyen, our summer intern and aspiring creative designer currently undertaking a B.A. at the University of Waterloo and two accomplished undergraduates from the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University - Mohammed Daudali and Patrick Taylor who spent their summer placement at Argon Design.