Before generative AI tools like Mid Journey and Chat GPT were household names for techies, Let's Enhance used the tech to solve a real eyesore— crap photography. (Founders, we love you, but gosh, we see a lot of crap photos at Tech.eu.)
I spoke to founders Sophie Schvets, CEO and Vlad Pranskevičius, CTO, who were calling in from California and Kyviv, respectively, to learn all about it.
The company's tech was inspired by emerging research demonstrating the capability to upscale images using neural networks.
Pranskevičius recalled: "We started when there was a lot of research, but there was almost no practical application. Use cases were narrow, and the infrastructure that existed was expensive."
But the company saw a way forward. It began with a friend's e-commerce store with really bad-quality pictures on their website coming from Chinese vendors.
"They were bad and really small. And the question was, do we need to actually reshoot everything, which is a pretty expensive, time-consuming process, or can we do something to the images to make them look better, sharper, larger, etc.?"
Early MVPs gained traction, and the company was born. Today Claid has optimised over 100 million user-generated photos for some of the biggest US companies, and Let's Enhance has received over €3 million in funding.
Claid offers a suite of products to improve digital images:
Image enhancement is an automated AI image upscale and fixer. Amongst other things, it makes it possible to dramatically increase photo size without losing quality. It's based on Deep Convolutional Neural Networks and other machine learning and trained on a huge picture dataset, making it possible to add extra details and pixels to photos.
Earlier this year, the company launched Scene Creation, an AI tool that generates unlimited marketing images for products with simple descriptions and templates in brand style.
This includes the generation, selection, and standardisation of product content. This allows businesses to be more effective on marketplaces and other platforms where they sell products on a large scale.
Today Let's Enhance's tools are used by creative professionals such as the massive Latin American food delivery company Rapi. Schvets explained that the company receives images from restaurants that are often poorly shot. Before using Claid, they would have to reject them or publish them as is.
The other key market is brands and agencies wanting scene creation for ad campaigns and promotions.
Traditional photoshoots require not only a photographer but lighting and other production expenses. Claid makes it possible to storyboard a campaign in advance for approval or even replace many of the required tools.
A creative renaissance
Let's be clear, Claid won't make you a better photographer —- it will make you a better photo editor.
Schvets believes that there will always be the need for professional photographers and designers. She notes that "the cleanest aesthetic for our virtual product photoshoots is always done by our designer. You still need to have a visual eye. But early adopters have always existed. They tinker with Photoshop, Blender, and 3D modelling."
She sees the beginning of a "creative renaissance" involving videos and mixed reality.
"In the future of large data, designers will personalise their content. There's a massive scope for personalised multimodal design where everything comes from core images.
Pranskevičius sees tools like those of Claid as a copilot for artists:
"Creating content is getting so much easier. All you need is just your imagination. The democratisation of the content will make everything much more interesting and make everyone a creator."