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Artificial Intelligence Facebook

Facebook AI algorithm helps the blind to 'see'


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 5, 2016 | 1 min read

Facebook is doing its bit to assist blind members by releasing new AI enabled functionality capable of ‘reading’ out photos to the visually impaired.

Automatic alternative text will open up the estimated 350m photos shared on the platform each day to this group by generating text descriptions of uploaded pictures which can be read out by a screen reader – which can speak the words out loud.

Until now screen reader users were simply told that they were looking at a ‘photo’ when an image presented itself on their newsfeed whereas now they might hear ‘image may contain two children playing football in a garden’.

This has been made possible by advances in Facebook’s visual recognition software which is now sufficiently robust to be able to identify features such as cars, mountains, trees, sunsets and pizza.

Despite advances the technology still remains a work in progress with an accuracy of around 80-90 per cent to just 100 separate concepts but it is being refined constantly.

Facebook launched an accessibility division five years ago, introducing feastures such as closed captioning for the deaf.

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