Prisma’s style transfer tech creeps into kids’ books

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The style craze kicked off by an app called Prisma a couple of years ago led to a tsunami of painterly selfies flooding social feeds for several months, as we reported at the time, before the rapacious, face-snapping hoards shifted their attention toward fresh spectacles. But that’s not the end of the story.

The same tech is now creeping into (paper) ’ books, via a partnership between children’s publisher startup, Kabook, and Prisma Labs: aka the b2b entity that the original app makers pivoted to in late 2017.

So instead of AI sending robots into a human-slaying frenzy, per the usual dystopian sci-fi storyline, we find ourselves confronted with neural nets being used to serve up contextual illustrations of children so parents can gift personalized books that seamlessly insert a child’s likeness into the story, thereby casting them as a character in the tale.

Not the end of the world then. Well, not unless you view this kind of self-centered content manipulation as a threat to children’s imaginations and developing sense of empathy. (The research on any ‘little princes in training’ will, unfortunately, have to wait a few decades to come through though.)

The Kabook integration is the first consumer product partnership that Prisma Labs has scored, according to a press release from the pair.

And while they note there are other publishing services that offer the chance to insert a bit of custom text and photography into a book they claim their collaboration is the only publishing technology that does this “seamlessly”, i.e. thanks to the AI’s style blending fingers.

“We are excited to be able to work directly with the team at Kabook! to create a truly unique user experience; one that has offered young readers a completely personalized way to enjoy reading,” said Andrey Usoltsev, CEO of Prisma Labs, in a statement.

“Part of our mission at Prisma Labs is to develop new ways for people to express their emotions through digital creations, and through this partnership with Kabook! we are able to take that one step further and bring that to life on the pages of an actual book.”

Kabook, which was set up last year — and describes itself as “a technology-based” children’s book publisher, with a focus on kids aged 0-7 years — is currently offering four stories that can be personalized with a kid’s AI-generated likeness.

Three of the books incorporate just one custom image into the story. While a fourth, called Hornswoggled!, makes uses of seven photos in a pirate-themed buried treasure adventure. 

The personalized stories start at $24.99 per book, with hard and soft cover versions available. 

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