Facebook Deploys AI to Help Easy Use of Social Media by Visually Impaired

April 6, 2016, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Facebook is bridging the gap between the social networking world and visually impaired people. The company is currently relying on artificial intelligence to usher in a technology that would improve the use of Facebook by the visually challenged people.

The feature developed by Facebook, called automatic alternative text, has already started its run, and has been made available for all iPhones. The technology used will be aiding the blind by reading out descriptions of any image that are posted.

Contents of the images are recognized using artificial intelligence, and the results so far haven’t been disappointing. The technology have been picking up multiple details of an image like smiling people, background, outdoor locations, and many other details in the picture. However, the details will be kept concise, and will be confined to a vocabulary of 100 words.


The feature is currently available on iPhones, and will also require the VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader in iPhones to be turned on. Descriptions are currently read only in English language, but Facebook is hoping to add more languages, and bring more development in the technology with much more precision in the descriptions.

In future, they might also expand the technology to answer further questions that are raised about a picture. At the same time, Facebook would have to be careful with the expansion of artificial technology too.

The recent AI trials of the technology behemoths had failed to end on a bright note. It included the recent racial abuses of Microsoft’s Toy, as well as the horrible interpretation of particular images made by Google during last year.

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