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Ready for 2024: What We Have Learned So Far

Jamie McInally

While 2024 is getting off to a good start, it's the perfect moment to reflect on the milestones and challenges that defined our journey in 2023. From rapid growth to redefining our focus, it has been a great adventure. We’re learning more and more every day but still feel we are just getting started. Let’s dive into our progress so far and see what lies ahead.

Autoenhance.ai started in 2021 with an idea to automate the process of enhancing images with artificial intelligence. We quickly saw lots of interest and opportunities for the real estate market and decided to focus on features for real estate images specifically, like automating sky replacements. In 2022, we got our first customers who have been essential to the growth of Autoenhance.ai by giving us feedback and helping us to improve. We went from a simple prototype to growing our team and becoming the preferred editing solution for large real estate companies. 

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence and Handling Growth

The beginning of 2023 is undoubtedly marked by the growth of ChatGPT and the prominence of artificial intelligence in general. This introduced AI to a large group of people who now got inspired by the great opportunities to generate content with AI. We saw an increase of 700% in interest in image editing with artificial intelligence during the first months of 2023 and have been welcoming dozens of new users every day from all over the world. All these users uploaded more and more images, resulting in an enhanced real estate image every 9 seconds. 

With this type of growth, it’s important to streamline processes and make sure our foundations are solid. We've invested in upgrading our backend capabilities to handle the increased volume of images with speed and efficiency. With great results, because we have been able to significantly lower the time it takes to enhance your images. Simultaneously, we have also improved our app design to elevate the overall user experience. This redesign ensures better uploading of images, new ways to set enhancement options and faster downloading. 

Our growing user base now consists of all kinds of players in the real estate industry, from agents using Autoenhance.ai to enhance their mobile images to property portals that automatically enhance all images that are being uploaded, and from professional real estate photographers to 360 creators.

A New Perspective on Autoenhance.ai

Central to our improvements is the invaluable input from our customers, which is constantly shaping our app to become more intuitive and easy to use. Because of our increasingly diverse user base, the list of feature requests grew simultaneously. We have a strong drive to make our users happy and we took every opportunity we saw to build these features. During the first half of 2023 we have been working on a user interface that allows users to brush away objects in their images, we have been training an AI to specifically upscale low quality aerial footage and we have built a nadir patch (we also had to look that up when we got that request..). 

While these features have made a lot of users happy, we started to notice that we were lacking time to work on the most important thing: improving the quality of our image enhancements. We did work on this continuously since we started, but we felt that we weren’t prioritising it enough. So after a reflective summer break, we decided to fully focus on the quality of our enhancements. This meant pausing work on user interface and features that weren’t in line with our redefined goal. We want to be as good as human editors in enhancing real estate images. We set the bar high, but we know we are able to pull this off with strong focus and dedication.

Setting Quality Benchmarks

In our quest for human level real estate image enhancements, we decided to break apart our image editing pipeline and score the quality of everything our AI does. From preprocessing your image files, to replacing skies, we now have a better understanding of where we need to improve. We have built a complete new app which professional image editors and experts use to assess our enhancements. This provides us with continuous insights in how we deliver on our promise, which helps us to set priorities for improvement.

We've also engaged in more in-depth discussions with our customers to pinpoint their key requirements regarding image quality. Concurrently, we gave a select group of users access to new features that improve image quality, encouraging them to test and provide feedback. This collaborative effort has proven instrumental in accelerating our development process and the willingness to provide feedback has been great. As one of our customers put it: 

“We believe this will be a gamechanger for the industry and we want to be on top of it.”

By working closely together with our users and scoring the quality of our editing pipeline, we are now able to evolve in an effective manner closely aligned with the needs of our users. All feedback and scoring considered, we chose to improve things like:

Perspective correction 

One of the things we heard from time to time is the need for better perspective correction to straighten horizontal and vertical lines. Our current perspective correction algorithm does not always suffice, resulting in crooked looking walls. We want our AI to understand the perspective of an image and correct it perfectly every time.

HDR blending 

HDR blending is taking the multiple brackets that were uploaded and blending them together in a way that most details are preserved and every area of the image is well exposed. This sets the stage for all the steps that come after, like improving white balance and color correction, and is therefore crucial to get as good as possible.  

White balance 

Autoenhance.ai allows users to set a warm or neutral white balance, but occasionally our white balance isn’t good enough, which means that for example white walls aren’t perceivable as white. Our goal is to create a realistic white balance that provides the viewer with an accurate representation of the property.

These are just a few areas we are working on, but it’s great to know that they all benefit the quality of our enhancements. And therefore, they benefit all of our users in the end.

Taking Autoenhance.ai Next Level

This year, we will continue full steam ahead on the path we have taken. We strive to develop algorithms that visually understand real estate images and continuously learn how to enhance them. Artificial intelligence is in our DNA and we approach every challenge with the following idea: How can our AI identify what needs to be done and how can it keep getting better at solving it? 

To achieve this, we have built tools that allow editors, experts and users to give input on all these areas. For example, our perspective correction AI model is able to learn from manual input to straighten horizontals and verticals, thus getting smarter each time we run into difficult images. Read more about how we approached this challenge here

We see loads of opportunities to improve our image enhancement pipeline, all serving our goal to become as good as a professional human real estate editor. This year, we are going to expand our artificial intelligence team and increase our investments in research and development significantly. Our drive to make our customers happy is bigger than ever, so we eagerly embrace the challenge to become the gamechanger of our industry and can’t wait to share what’s next.

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