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OnOne acquires novel image-resizing software

Photo-editing software firm will release standalone software and a Photoshop plug-in that uses a "content aware" twist to resizing photos.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
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Photo-editing specialist OnOne Software has acquired technology called Liquid Resize that brings a new twist to the task of resizing digital images, the company said Thursday.

There are numerous ways to expand or shrink a photo, but Liquid Resize's method, called seam carving, is unusual in that it can change the height-to-width proportion called aspect ratio. It does this by trying to determine what areas of the photo should be preserved intact and what parts are background that can be stretched or deleted.

The result is that background can stretch to fill gaps between people in a shot that's being widened, or a photo that's being shrunk overall can devote the maximum number of pixels to what's important. The software can guess on its own what's most important, or the user can select specific regions to be preserved or discarded preferentially.

OnOne will release a free public beta of a standalone Liquid Resize software version for Windows and Mac OS X in late January, the company said, and a Photoshop plug-in is due in mid-2008. Pricing has not yet been announced for the final version of Liquid Resize that will be released later in 2008.

The seam-carving technology, also called content-aware image resizing, garnered a lot of buzz when developers Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir demonstrated it in 2007. The Liquid Resize software OnOne acquired was based on that research and developed by a husband and wife team, Ramin Sabet and Irmgard Sabet-Wasinger, OnOne said.

Avidan and Shamir suggested the software would be useful embedded in Web pages that could be resized for small screens, such as those on handheld devices, without shrinking important parts of the photo. (This has ruffled feathers among some who prefer their photos to be unaltered, which is an especially important consideration in photojournalism.)

OnOne said it's possible the technology could be used elsewhere besides its own photo-editing software. "At this time, our initial plans are to make this available as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. We are looking at other ways that we might release this technology in the future," the company said in a statement.

OnOne didn't disclose terms of the acquisition, but said it was solely for intellectual property.