Another way for you to help teachers in your school – and it’s another free download.
AutoCollage is a picture editing tool with a big difference – it works out what to do with your pictures, so that you don’t have to. You point it towards a folder of pictures, and it analyses the contents, using a range of intelligent features, including face detection and saliency filters and uses this to identify interesting parts of pictures. It then uses that analysis to blend your photos and combine them into an AutoCollage. Phew, saves all that “which photos should I use?” angst.
Unusually, the product came directly out of the Microsoft Research Labs in Cambridge, rather than through our usual product release routes, which is why you can not only read about the product, but also the research being done into face detection, object selection and image blending. The AutoCollage team have also made a video showing it in action.
The UK Partners in Learning team have been working with MS Research for the past several months to persuade them to let teachers get AutoCollage free (normally you can download a free 30-day trial version, but then it costs £18).
Obviously their persuasive powers have worked and it is available through the UK Innovative Teachers Network. So anyone wishing to use AutoCollage for educational purposes can go to the UK ITN, register for a free username and password, and download their free copy of AutoCollage directly from the site. The UK ITN is currently the only location in the world with this offer.
The “educational purposes” bit means that you can also let students have copies to pull together all of their field-trip photos too.
Do you happen to know (or are able to find out) whether the "educational purposes" bit means it is acceptable to deploy AutoCollage to school networked workstations under this licence?
I read your blog regularly, so I know that if I say "no", I'll get some stick straight away.
Fortunately, the answer is "Yes" - you can deploy across the school.
I've found it's saves a pile of time when kids walk back in with 200 pictures on their camera, and then spend 3 hours deciding which ones to put onto a collage. Now they just let AutoCollage do all the work.
Now it means they can go out and take another 300 photos in the time they have left over!
Lovely stuff - and in my defence, I've only ever complained about a Microsoft product twice, and one of those was in the context of 'at last they've finally fixed this thing'!