This summer text-to-image Artificial Intelligence (AI) softwares DALL∙E and Midjourney rose in popularity among architects, artists, and designers. With just a few descriptive keywords and phrases the models are able to collage together a visual representation of the input text using its memory database of visuals. While the results are sometimes memeable, the engineers are training the models to be smarter, proving that they are a design tool, capable of producing concepts and life-like renderings. And soon, Microsoft users will be able to reap the power of text-to-image AI through a new platform called Microsoft Designer, part of the Microsoft Office suite alongside Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
Microsoft Designer will be powered by DALL∙E 2, a machine learning model developed by OpenAI first revealed in January 2021. The Microsoft program will have a similar interface to that of DALL∙E, a box where users can input their text prompt which will then generate visuals based on the input description. Users can then export the creation or use it on a variety of templates to design social media posts, invitations, posters, and other graphic content.
The app is designed to save users time and it can be managed by anyone, regardless of their artistic experience and capabilities.
“Designer invites you to start with an idea and let the AI do the heavy lifting,” Corporate Vice President for Modern Life, Search, and Devices Liat Ben-Zur noted in a press release. “As you work in Designer, every surface of the app is powered by AI to help ensure consistent, aligned, properly scaled, and beautiful designs, even with or without any inherent design ability.”
Microsoft announced the new program and integration at an event yesterday that teased a number of other products launching soon, including Surface computers, Windows 11 updates, and upgrades to Microsoft Edge. The Washington-headquartered technology company said it has future plans for Designer, and hopes to bring the tool to its search engine Bing and its web browser Edge. When Designer officially launches in app form it will be at no cost to users, however, Microsoft 365 subscribers will be granted access to premium features.
Microsoft’s announcement comes just days after Open AI, the company behind DALL∙E opened the software to the public, doing away with the long waitlist and paywall to join and create content on the platform, Craiyon (née DALL·E mini developed by Boris Dayma for Hugging Face) still remains free to use online.
While AI and its capabilities are exciting, the future of the technology is also quite daunting, raising questions about labor, is there a future in which the role of an architect or designer is taken over by a computer? Similarly, inherent visual biases found within the data sets the models pull from and the issue of copyright and ownership on the generated visuals also will need to be addressed.