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Facebook VoiceOver to Describe Photos for the Blind

Michael Liedtke - The Associated Press
go to original
April 6, 2016

Facebook is training its computers to become seeing-eye guides for blind and visually impaired people as they scroll through the pictures posted on the world's largest online social network.

The feature rolling out on Facebook's iPhone app interprets what's in a picture using a form of artificial intelligence that recognizes faces and objects. The iPhone's built-in screen reader, VoiceOver, must be turned on for Facebook's photo descriptions to be read. For now, the feature will only be available in English.

The descriptions initially will be confined to a vocabulary of 100 words in a restriction that will prevent the computer from providing a lot of details. For instance, the automated voice may only tell a user that a photo features three people smiling outdoors without adding that the trio also has drinks in their hands. Or it may say the photo is of pizza without adding that there's pepperoni and olives on top of it.

Facebook is being careful with the technology, called "automatic alternative text," in an attempt to avoid making a mistake that offends its audience. Google learned the risks of technology last year when an image recognition feature in its Photos app labeled a black couple as gorillas, prompting the company to issue an apology.

Eventually, though, Facebook hopes to refine the technology so it provides more precise descriptions and even answers questions that a user might pose about a picture.

Read the rest at 12NewsNow

Image: Stock Voice Over

  Check out Discapacitados Visuales - The Visually Impaired

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