Everyone wants to look their best in photos and videos. Now the world’s most valuable AI startup is rolling out a filter that instantly gives you a face and body makeover in live videos.

SenseTime say their algorithms can slim down someone’s face, abs, arms and legs in real time, according to the South China Morning Post. They can also adjust the width of their shoulders or make their breasts and hips curvier.

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba -- an investor in SenseTime.)

A demo video shows how the software can adjust someone’s body shape without altering the background. (Picture: SenseTime/Weibo)

Hundreds of millions of people in China already turn to selfie-editing apps to put their best face forward. It’s estimated more than half the selfies posted on Chinese social media are generated by popular touch-up apps from Meitu -- a company whose name, like Google’s, has turned into a verb.

These apps exist largely to help users mould their faces into a look that’s been dubbed the “wang hong lian,” or “internet celebrity face” -- consisting of large round eyes, a pointy chin, and flawless, pale complexion. Some apps go further by slimming and lengthening the body.

Guests at a Beijing fashion show place their smartphones on tripods to live stream (Picture: EPA-EFE)

The look is made popular by star streamers -- often young, physically attractive women, who film themselves singing, playing online games, or simply going about in their daily lives. Many of them stream for hours everyday, not counting the time to prepare beforehand. Some even had plastic surgery to “improve” their looks.

The most successful of these streamers make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through tips from fans, as well as lucrative ads and sponsorships. But the competition is tough. Last year, it was estimated that there were 3.5 million streamers in China -- all vying for the eyeballs of 350 million mobile viewers. A report from Tencent Research Institute said 95% of the streamers it interviewed earned less than 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) a month.

SenseTime says their new technology is all about convenience for streamers.

“Imagine you feel like live streaming at 10pm but want to skip putting on makeup just for that,” said vice president Li Xingye at a product launch in Beijing.

Touch-up tools are just one way SenseTime is trying to sell its technology.

Founded in Hong Kong in 2014, the company has built facial recognition systems that are used by local Chinese authorities to identify suspects and monitor prison inmates. It’s also made software that it claims can help China’s censors filter out politically sensitive chatter.

These uses have stoked concerns about privacy, but SenseTime CEO co-founder Bing Xu suggested earlier this year that his company’s role is simply to provide solutions to meet a client’s need.

“We are not a data gathering company -- we are actually a data processing company. We help our customers process their data better,” he said.