Artificial Intelligence is not only taking over the world, it is also helping humans from time to time. The most recent example of this can be the Facebook AI, which describes photos to the blind, enabling them to use the social network in a more effective manner.
The company will be using an artificial intelligence tool, which is known as Automatic Alternative Text that will allow people who use screen readers to hear the description of any photo that is posted on the social network. For instance, a picture with a Pizza may be described as “Pizza, Food, Restaurant”, which will let the unsighted users hear the photo. Before this photo captioning tool was created, users were only informed that their friend posted a photo, but there was no way they could know what the photo is all about unless someone described it to them.
Facebook is trying to make sure that almost 300 million visually impaired users globally remain mesmerized by its website by hearing the photos’ description, as the number of photos appearing on the social network is increasing regularly. More than 2 billion pictures are posted every day on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
Matt King, a Facebook employee, who is blind, came up with the idea to provide accessibility for users like him so that they can get more engaged with the platform without annoying anyone to describe the pictures for them.
AAT tool that is developed by Facebook AI uses deep neural networks that help the system to identify objects in a picture starting from cars and planes to chocolates and sushi. It can also make out some of the specific characteristics of the people in the photo such as beards, smiles, and eyeglasses. It can also depict some natural elements like sun, snow, and oceans. After the details of the picture are identified, the text-to-speech engine will read the characteristics of the picture aloud like “The image may contain: Two people, smiling, snow” which may allow the visually impaired to know much about the photo.
In order to use Facebook AI tool, VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader for iPhone should be turned on, so as to describe the images.
The launch of this feature comes a week after Twitter declared that it will allow its users to add captions manually in the photos they tweet. However, Facebook employs a lot more time and money than Twitter as it uses artificial intelligence to get the job done.
Right now, Automatic Alternative Text is only available in English and for iOS users, but Facebook is planning to make it available to Android users and website users in the near future. Also, the tool will be soon available to users who do not reside in the United States.