PhotoSpeak in Review – Oh my God, Max Headroom is back!

In the late eighties, a TV show appeared that pioneered cyberpunk in the US. That show was Max Headroom. Though it was extremely short-lived due to heavy competition, it opened the audience’s eyes to the future, where an artificial intelligence could replace people as reporters, TV hosts and other media personas that we only see through the dreaded box with moving pictures. Well, thanks to MotionPortrait we’re now one step closer to this future and create a Max Headroom of our very own with PhotoSpeak and the tap of a finger.

PhotoSpeak is an unusual app. It can take any front-faced picture of a person and with some magic turn it into a 3D model. And that’s not all – it can actually lipsync the model to anything you record on the iPhone. Sounds impossible? Well, I thought so too!

To get started with PhotoSpeak you only need to take a picture, crop it and let the app do it’s hocus-pocus. You can also select an image from your photo library if there’s a suitable one. Though PhotoSpeak tries to do a fair job with anything you feed to it to get a really good result you’ll need something like an ID photo – front face, mouth closed, no glasses. And another thing – the image conversion is actually done on the MotionPortrait servers, so be ready with an internet connection at hand.

After the magic is done, the model is downloaded back to your iPhone. Unfortunately I was unable to find whether the photo actually stays on the server, so the paranoids out there might want to stay clear. For the sane people – the fun has just begun. The model head sits there in the app, blinks and tilts to follow your finger or the accelerometer movements. And as I said at the beginning – you can record anything in the app and then make the model repeat it in perfect lypsync. For some extra fun you can double tap the image to toggle geeky or cool glasses and an afro hairstyle.

For the social networking addicts you can save or e-mail the photo, or even upload videos to Youtube! You can also send them via PhotoSpeak Mail to your friends and even complete strangers! The most fun part is that it also works perfectly well with photos taken of the screen – which you can see with my Barak Obama videos. One thing I really missed is the ability to make the model sing songs from the iPhone music library – it would make it twice as fun. And if the developers could somehow (probably impossible) make the app work with animals – that would be just awesome.

PhotoSpeak is definitely one of the apps that will have a permanent home on my iPhone. It really showcases both what the current level of technology in general and the iPhone in particular can do. And it’s really fun, especially at parties. Though it is a little pricey at $2.99 it really stands out among the scores of useless and stupid novelty apps out there. So now I have Barak Obama at the palm of my hand and can make him say anything I want. World domination is just around the corner. Mua-ha-ha-ha!

With this I declare PhotoSpeak officially touched!

App Summary
Title: PhotoSpeak Developer: MotionPortrait, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 2.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 3.3 MB
  • Fun
  • Works great
  • Make anyone say anything
  • Doesn’t allow you to play music from your library


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