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A few years ago, “zoom and enhance” was an internet meme making fun of CSI-style shows using a technology that didn’t really exist. Taking a very low-resolution image and zooming in/enhancing it wasn’t something that could be done as depicted.
However, in the last few years, new modern artificial intelligence (AI) models have changed that. The so-called “super-resolution” can now be done with pretty stunning results. Even better, the models and underlying code are open-sourced, meaning anyone can upscale their images using these new, state-of-the-art AI models.
I’m going to reveal how you can easily utilize this technology to automatically upscale your website images in bulk and why it can be beneficial.
Super-resolution is probably best suited for e-commerce sites that don’t have super high-quality images and instead have small images provided by manufacturers, drop shippers or other ecommerce middlemen.
Here’s a look at the kind of quality increase you could expect from this process.
Source: Imgur Album
You can see more full-size examples here. The differences are more apparent the larger the image is zoomed.
However, there are some other factors to consider before proceeding. Site speed is a key SEO ranking metric. Increasing image resolution typically also means increasing image size. The tradeoff between quality and image size is an important one, and you should have an idea of how upscaling images may impact page load times.
If you already have only high-quality images, as you should, upscaling likely isn’t worthwhile.
Super-resolution upscaling also doesn’t do particularly well with text. It can create artifacts that decrease overall image quality. However, it works much better for images without text.
Despite those caveats, if you still think the increase in quality would be useful for you like the examples below, keep reading.
This guide requires that you sign up for two APIs:
While it’s possible to achieve what is outlined here without relying on paid APIs, it does drastically simplify the process for relatively inexpensive API usage rates. If you have an ongoing need for using super-resolution on your images, implementing these models from their open-source base code is probably your least expensive bet.
Here’s what to do:
We are now at a tipping point in the emergence and democratization of AI-driven models that can do magical things. Learning Python opens up a huge new world where open-source code and open-source trained models now give even programming novices the opportunity to leverage these technologies for a huge variety of digital marketing goals.
Keeping abreast of this AI revolution will not only keep you ahead of the curve but will also give you the opportunity to be among the first to apply these advancements in new and creative ways, addressing previously unaddressable problems and challenges in our space.
Kristin Tynski is VP of Creative at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.
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