Thursday January 17, 2019
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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

Next Story

AI Skills Fuel Digital Transformation in India: Microsoft’s President

Nearly eight per cent of GDP components in India are currently impacted by digital technologies and by 2021, 60 per cent of those will be impacted

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The enterprise solutions major has integrated SAP CoPilot with the
"A tectonic shift is happening in AI. Nearly 85 per cent of enterprises globally will use AI in some form or the other by 2020.

In a renewed push for Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge use cases in the country, Microsoft India on Wednesday said there is highest penetration of AI skills among the workforce that will fuel digital transformation in the country sooner than thought.

“A tectonic shift is happening in AI. Nearly 85 per cent of enterprises globally will use AI in some form or the other by 2020. Indian firms are now fast catching up,” Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, told reporters at the company’s flagship Media and Analysts’ Day here.

Nearly eight per cent of GDP components in India are currently impacted by digital technologies and by 2021, 60 per cent of those will be impacted.

“Almost every sector is becoming digital and that transformation is impacting every company in India,” stressed Maheshwari.

Microsoft,

Microsoft currently has 54 Azure Cloud regions — more than AWS and Google combined.

Today, 97 per cent of the top banks, 75 per cent of the top retailers, 81 per cent of the top auto firms, 75 per cent of the top pharma players and 67 per cent of the top healthcare firms are Microsoft’s customers in India.

Wipro, Future Generali, L&T Technology Services and Apollo Hospitals are some of the key customers.

“With over 9,500 partners, nearly 3,000 Cloud partners and 88 own IP-ready partners, we are ready to unlock the full potential of AI, Cloud and data for the Indian firms,” stressed the Microsoft India President.

Over 700 AI-driven enterprises in India today are driving businesses with New Age technologies.

Driven by Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge and spurt of data, AI and its growing use cases are set to change the game.

Also Read: Microsoft to End All Support For ‘Windows 7’ in 2020

Microsoft currently has 54 Azure Cloud regions — more than AWS and Google combined.

“We will continue to work closely with the countries when it comes to data localisation. India already has three Azure regions which shows how serious we are for keeping data within the boundaries,” said Maheshwari. (IANS)