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‘Photo Wake-Up’ makes stills come eerily alive

Moonwalk GIF
Photo Wake-Up can turn a photo of an Apollo moonwalker into an animation that has the astronaut walking out of the frame. (UW / NASA Image)

What would it be like to see pictures of moonwalkers, comic-book characters and painted portraits get up and walk right out of their frames? It’s an eerie thought – but Photo Wake-Up, a software application developed by computer scientists at the University of Washington and Facebook, gives you an idea how it would look.

And someday, the app could come to an augmented-reality headset near you.

The project has been in the works for months. It won a share of the spotlight last November at UW’s annual Madrona Prize competition, and made another media splash a month later when the team put out a preprint paper.

Next week, the researchers will be presenting their results at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Long Beach, Calif.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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