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Facebook's winking pictures

Facebook are working on profile pictures that can wink or smile depending on a person's reaction to the photo.

The social media giant has teamed up with Tel Aviv University to develop this new software, which would make the person smile in the photo if it is given a like.

Hadar Averbuch-Elor from Tel Aviv University, who conducted the research in collaboration with Facebook, told the New Scientist: "We've shown that reactive profile pictures are possible. We found that if we change the teeth people don't notice too much. I think eventually they will be completely indistinguishable from real videos."

It uses a single image of a face and can then turn the person's expression to be happy, sad or angry. A study found that half of the people who saw the new animations thought they were real.

To make it work, they use a "base" video of someone else, which is mapped onto the image of the person in the profile picture. From there, it is warped to give the impression the other person is changing their facial expression. However, when a person smiles, they show their teeth and the software has to "borrow" the teeth from the base video for this reactionary video.

The project - which could be used by Facebook to make a person's picture "smile" when someone likes it - is set to be presented at the Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Bangkok, Thailand later this month.

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