July 4, 2011 at 4:52 PM ET
By John Cook
Two former Valve Software game developers have released a new iOS application called Morfo 3D Face Booth, which allows anyone with an iPhone or iPad to turn photos of themselves, famous individuals or others into talking characters.
For example, you could turn an old photo of Abe Lincoln into a knight, or adorn the 16th U.S. President with purple hair, and then assign spoken words and eye and lip movements to the 3D face.
Developed late last year by Kelly Bailey and Mike Dussault, the $1.99 app has started to attract attention. The app just topped one million downloads — not bad for something that started as an R&D project.
"With Morfo, we wanted to make it so anyone out there could do creative and fun things with their own faces and the faces of their friends," said Dussault, who co-founded SunSpark Labs with Bailey.
The app, originally released for Windows Phone 7, is pretty wild, as you can see in this video as Dussault shows how easy it is to alter the face of Abe Lincoln.
Dussault tells GeekWire that they developed Morfo because "we felt that faces evoke such a strong gut response in people.”
"Kelly and I felt that this idea had never been touched, and we felt that if we could make face mapping available to everyone, then suddenly a whole bunch of things become possible that weren't possible before," he said.
Dussault spent 10 years at Valve, working at the game developer as an engineer. Before that, he worked at Monolith, where he built the Lithtech game engines. Bailey also was an early employee at Valve where he worked on some of the original Half-Life titles, including the original music and sound effects.
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