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App removes wandering people from photos


February 14, 2012

The Remove app is designed to remove bystanders from photos taken by mobile devices

The Remove app is designed to remove bystanders from photos taken by mobile devices

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It's kind of a funny thing, when you think about it ... even though it's normal to see other people milling about in public places, when we take photos of those places, we often don't want any of those people in our pictures. Ordinarily, this means standing around and waiting, then blasting off a shot in the split second when no one is within your frame - except perhaps the person you're taking a photo of. Swedish photography company Scalado, however, has now developed an alternative for use with mobile devices. It's called Remove, and appropriately enough, it removes those pesky "other people" from your photographs.

Remove works by initially taking a burst of shots in succession. By comparing those shots with one another, it is then able to identify which objects are stationary (the scenery, and/or your posing subject) and which ones are moving (those dang people). It then highlights the moving objects on a preview screen, and allows you to select which ones to remove. The end product is a composite photo, with the offending humans taken out.

Although a certain unwanted person may be blocking the background in one shot, that same bit of background will be visible in another shot - this little fact allows the app to fill in the background when it removes the person. Needless to say, Remove can't help you with bystanders who are standing still ... perhaps if it had a feature that used your device's speaker to yell "Hey buddy, get outta my shot!"

The app is presently still in the prototype stage, but a full version should be ready for a demonstration later this month, at the 2012 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. It is reminiscent of a system being developed at the University of California, San Diego, that is able to remove pedestrians from Google Street View images.

The video below demonstrates how the app is to be used.

Source: Scalado via New Scientist

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Looks like it basicly takes a short video, then takes the picture. It then seems to compare the video to the picture, any moving objects can then be edited out and substituted using the prerecorded video frame portions that do not contain the object. Can be done using multiframes in photoshop, but this is way way faster :)

Terry Penrose

Cool....i bet you could cut out somebody you no longer want in a pic? lol

James Palmer

So it has to record the picture before it takes it so it knows whats behind the person or object?


This is a terrific development. I have lots of pictures of \'other people\' that were not supposed to be in the frame.

Obviously smart phones can never replace the camera for professional use.

BUT unless the camera people can come up with something similar, for the rest of us mere mortals who take \'snapshots\', this could spell the end of the camera.

Camera manufacturers take note.


This has been available (without the selection feature) on the Fuji HS10 for over a year! And you have to hold the camera very still or the background won\'t be the same in each of the succession of shots. The camera/phone moves in the demonstration video meaning it probably wouldn\'t work

Kathy Cohen

The Eiffel Tower sample shown cannot be taken with the app, because, as the article says, it removes wandering people that are in different places in consecutive shots, not the people that are, as shown in the sample, laying down and taking the sun or sitting on benches feeding pigeons...


Removing other people!? Sure that\'s ok when they stand in front of a great sculpture, but do we really prefer deserted landscapes to inhabited ones? This is a cultural difference between warm and cold cultures. In warm cultures (and this is not about the climate) people are our reason to go out. In some cultures, people have historically lived in tough climates; too cold, too dry, and unlike in tropical and subtropical climates food was scarce. Maybe that\'s why the \"others\" are seen as a nuisance, competitors maybe? Nice app anyways.

Hala Chaoui

This is quite funny, because I have asked a gentleman called matt from a company called SYFI in the UK in 2003-2004 if they could make a piece of software that could remove all moving objects in a video,. LOL

Vincent Rogiest

Picture technology is such now that no picture should be taken as evidence in a court of law, on television or other media, as it cannot be believed. Photoshopped pictures are everywhere now, so we have effectively removed any semblance of reality. This can be quite important internationally for \"evidence\" to start wars or justify attacks. Because not only can people and moving things be removed, they can be added, or other things can be inserted. Good technology will defy anyone proving it not to be true. We also can do this with recordings and testimonies, confessions, etc. with tampering with recordings. We can make things appear now any way we want. God help us.

Sieglinde Proctor

Aren\'t we already disconnected from each other quite enough? Do we really need to remove everyone from our photographs? Joseph Stalin would\'ve loved this! It would seem our desire to be the ultimate center of our own universe forever marches on. A useless and counterproductive app.

Joseph DeLappe

Don\'t think anyone would be willing to wait for those picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower to get up so the app could give the result in the middle photo!! a bit of exaggerated advertising if you ask me...

And how does it deal with moving clouds? would they all be replaced with a pure blue sky, thus ruining some nice shots!


I can do the same with a film camera: small aperture, slow film, and a very long exposure. Only people who stand in place would register, and then usually only as \"ghosts.\" I\'ve been doing this sort of thing for over 40 years; it isn\'t rocket science and doesn\'t require lots of technology- just patience, the right camera, and a bit of understanding of how light works to make a picture. Oh, and a good sturdy tripod.

William Lanteigne

This article is over a year old, yet the app is still not available!

Stephen Potts
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