This app puts in color your old black and white photos

If you are looking for a tool to bring your monochrome shots to life, here is colorizes. This online application relies on artificial intelligence to colorize old photos, and it’s bluffing!

A group of researchers in Singapore recently published ColouriseSG, a tool to colorize old black and white photos. It is a simple public demonstration of the fruit of their research with artificial intelligence, and yet the results are very successful.

The authors started from the observation that the existing tools had the defect of being based on the ImageNet American image bank, and thus would lack data regarding the historical images specific to Singapore, and the color nuances that were common to the time.

The strength of AI and deep learning

To create their tool, the researchers resorted to artificial intelligence, and more specifically to deep learning. They relied on algorithms called generative antagonistic networks (GANs), two competing neural networks, as well as a bank of images with colored originals and a black-and-white copy. 

A first network tries to guess the color of the pixels in the monochrome photo, while the second network determines whether the chosen color is realistic by comparing it to the original in color. The cycle repeats in a loop until the second network validates the color.

The authors warn users because the colors obtained are simply credible colors, not a reconstruction of the original colors. In addition, the tool is set for the typical Singapore color palettes. Nevertheless, even with pictures taken elsewhere in the world, the results are far superior to competitors, including Algorithmia.