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Google working on real-time background removal for YouTube videos

06 March 2018

While artificial intelligence may one day evolve into the godhead, right now it's being put to a more prosaic use: amusing backgrounds in YouTube videos. This tool is an AI green screen one. The feature, which is now in a limited beta, is available only in the YouTube app and it's designed specifically for YouTube creators.

"As we improve and expand our segmentation technology to more labels, we plan to integrate it into Google's broader Augmented Reality services", the blog noted. Yes, they look like Snapchat's and Instagram's video captures by the same name.

Of course the results are not flawless, there are some halo-like artifacts around the edges of dark clothing, for example but naturally this is the next step after Google's AI-powered portrait mode for still photos on the Pixel 2.

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Google, though, trained a neural network with lots of carefully labeled imagery that helped it learn how to distinguish facial features - eyes, hair, glasses, mouths and so on - from everything else.

"Our new segmentation technology allows creators to replace and modify the background, effortlessly increasing videos' production value without specialised equipment", reads a blog post from Google Research software engineers, Valentin Bazarevsky and Andrei Tkachenka.

"Video segmentation is a widely used technique that enables movie directors and video content creators to separate the foreground of a scene from the background and treat them as two different visual layers". More importantly, this technology is being tested to run on smartphones; removing the need for expensive computer setups.

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To watch videos on YouTube Go app, you need to complete few steps such as choosing language, adding phone number and email id. Google claims the training set has an accuracy of 94.8%, notes Digital Trends. Further, Google has yet to provide details on how it's new Artificial Intelligence tool impacts the battery or if it requires a depth-sensing camera. Furthermore, it's still not certain what the requirements look like for this tech to work.

Will a similar feature be available on Instagram at some point?

With exception of the 15-minute length restriction, YouTube seems to have borrowed the filters, stickers and several other features from these apps.

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Google working on real-time background removal for YouTube videos