MENLO PARK (Web Desk) – Facebook has begun using artificial intelligence to help people with visual impairments to recognize objects in pictures and then describe photos aloud.
Blind Facebook users scrolling through their feed have known for a while exactly what they were missing.
Text-to-speech dictation software that describes the back-and-forth comments and recites friends’ status updates would offer little when users came across an image: “Photo,” the machine would say. Maybe a name, if the photo was tagged with a person.
The feature was being tested on mobile devices powered by Apple iOS software and which have screen readers set to English.
Facebook planned to expand the capability to devices with other kinds of operating systems and add more languages, according to King, who lost his vision as a US college student studying electrical engineering.
The technology works across Facebook’s family of applications and is based on a “neural network” taught to recognize things in pictures using millions of examples.