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Find more of your favorite photos with AI: A closer look at Aura’s new app feature, Highlights

By Aura | September 13, 2023

While it’s never been easier to document major life moments through photos, it’s more of a challenge to sift through them all. In 2023, iOS smartphone users have approximately 2,400 photos on their phone, while Android users have around 1,900 photos. 

At Aura, our goal is to make it easy to share and enjoy key snapshots with others, both in the Aura app and displayed on family members’ frames. Our new app feature, Highlights, simplifies photo curation and makes it faster to find and add your best photos to your Aura frame, using on-device facial recognition developed by Aura.

Find faces fast with Highlights

Aura has invested in machine learning capabilities for over 6 years – since our very first product. We know that people love photos and love their families even more. So, we wanted to help you automatically curate the best photos of the people you’re already showcasing on your Aura frame, using AI technology. To bring this feature-set to market at scale (without compromising customer privacy), we developed new technologies that perform facial recognition and clustering fully on your device. With no cloud component at all, this allows us to deliver the benefits of AI while giving you more control – and privacy – over your personal photos. 

Highlights can be accessed in the Add Photos screen in the Aura app for iOS, and will be available to Android users at a later date. Once the feature has learned from your selection habits, it will use two AI models to automatically highlight your best and most relevant photos:

  1. Facial Recognition Model: Analyzes faces in photos you’ve selected to surface more of those individuals from your photo library.

  2. Photo Quality Model: Analyzes image attributes like blurriness, graininess, facial features and expressions to select the best photo from each series of similar shots.

Aura’s privacy-first AI models have been trained on diverse real-world photo datasets rather than customer photos. Highlights is part of the Smart Suggestions feature set, and you can easily opt-out from your Account Settings.

How Aura uses AI to make sharing to digital frames easier 

We’ve been developing AI-enabled app features since our founding to simplify photo sharing across households:

Smart Suggestions use machine learning algorithms to automatically surface relevant photos around certain times and events, like birthdays or holidays, to save you time searching through your camera roll for these milestones.

Colorizer breathes new life into faded, monochrome photos using neural networks. Aura’s AI is trained from various historical images, such as nature landscapes, portraits of people, and even in-motion images to determine which colors will bring your photo to life in the most realistic fashion.

Going forward, we'll continue pioneering new ways to harness AI's capabilities to empower connection and nostalgia across households, while keeping customers firmly in the driver's seat.

What's next

Looking ahead, we plan to evolve our AI models and further explore other responsible applications that bring real joy to Aura customers. Our priority will always be to thoughtfully reconnect loved ones through our app and photo frames.