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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS

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Facebook not yet ready with digital payments on Messenger in India

When launched, the new payments feature is set to give a tough competition to Paytm and other digital payment services like Google Tez

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The Facebook's image.
Facebook not ready for online payments. Pixabay

Facebook has no plans as of now to bring digital payment facility to its Messenger application in India, informed sources said on Thursday. “There are currently no tests planned for recharges or peer-to-peer payments on Messenger in India,” the sources told IANS.

Factor Daily had reported that Facebook has begun a beta version of recharge payments for mobile phone and other prepaid services on Messenger. “Mobile recharge option is a Facebook ‘Marketplace’ offering — which is actually going on as a pilot test which is right now available to only Android users in some regions,” the sources added.

The icon of Facebook.
Facebook has many fake profiles. Pixabay

Launched in 2016, Marketplace is a user-to-user exchange platform for buying and selling goods with others within the community. Currently, the peer-to-peer payment service on Messenger is available for its users in the US and the UK.

More than 1.3 billion people around the world are now using Facebook Messenger every month. The growth of Messenger now puts the app at par with Facebook-owned WhatsApp which also has over 1.3 billion monthly active users (MAUs). WhatsApp, however, has rolled out the testing phase of its digital payment feature in India — a first such move globally — which will be officially rolled out to its over 200 million Indian users in the days to come.

Also Read: Facebook introduces new privacy updates for EU users

When launched, the new payments feature is set to give a tough competition to Paytm and other digital payment services like Google Tez. The payments feature would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of banks, including the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank. IANS