(RTÉ News) – Facebook has begun using artificial intelligence to help people with visual impairments enjoy photos posted on the social network.
Facebook introduced machine learning technology trained to recognise objects in pictures and then describe photos aloud.
“As Facebook becomes an increasingly visual experience, we hope our new automatic alternative text technology will help the blind community experience Facebook the same way others enjoy it,” said accessibility specialist Matt King.
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 Mr 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 recognise things in pictures using millions of examples.
More than two billion pictures are shared daily across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, King said.
“While this technology is still nascent, tapping its current capabilities to describe photos is a huge step toward providing our visually impaired community the same benefits and enjoyment that everyone else gets from photos,” Mr King said.
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