iPhone App Review: Mojo Masks

iPhone App Review: Mojo Masks

November 10th, 2012 by

Just when I thought I had seen it all from every  category of iOS app, along comes something that I never would have thought possible. Mojo Masks puts sophisticated facial recognition and motion capture into the palm of your hand by putting a digital representation of one of several different styles of masks on your face, in real time, without any user input whatsoever; the mask “sticking” to your face as you move, contort, and emote (within reason), even letting you snap pictures and video and save them to your camera roll, Facebook, or YouTube.

It’s an amazing achievement that makes other apps that put “things” on your face look like little more than digital versions of those wooden cutout boards you see at carnivals, where you put your head through the hole and appear as if you’re a cartoon-ish bodybuilder.

How It Works

Despite my last sentence, the irony is that you DO need to put your face in a little hole within the app itself, so that it can recognize it. Line up your face, follow the instructions (no hats/glasses, don’t smile), press the “Fit Mask” button, and within seconds your chosen mask will be “painted” on your face. Smile, blink, open your eyes wide, make whatever face you want; the mask tracks your movements and appears for all purposes like it’s really there. There are some limitations: move too fast and it will freak out a bit, but after all we are still talking about a phone doing the effects here.

Once fitted for a mask you can select any mask in the catalog and it will switch instantly. There a handful of free masks selected from different categories, and different mask packs can be purchased for $0.99 each.

Pros And Cons

In my testing I only found one reproducible flaw in the facial detection engine: hair covering your forehead, or bangs. The app recognizes my face perfectly and instantly, but when trying to fit my 7 year-old son we had several failed attempts until we tried brushing the hair way from his forehead. Boom, that instantly worked, and it seemed to be the culprit every time.

Despite the app’s proclamation that you need plenty of light, I found that it worked very well in fairly low-light conditions, though I imagine your mileage may vary depending on which phone model you are using.

The sample mask selection when you download the free app gives you a good idea of how different styles work (including one that’s not a mask at all but simply glowing eyes), and $0.99 for a pack of masks isn’t an unfair price. Hopefully more masks are being added with future updates. The app’s description claims that this is the only app of its kind that allows you to record video of this type of effect. Without trying every app in the App Store I can’t confirm that, but I wouldn’t doubt it, and regardless the effect is simply amazing to look at.

Overall

Mojo Masks packs amazing technology into a small free package. It’s worth downloading for the “wow” factor alone, but go ahead and toss the developers a buck and buy a mask pack or two. This kind of ingenuity deserves to be rewarded.

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