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Microsoft’s Improved Face API More Accurately Recognizes a Range of Skin Tones

Currently, facial recognition tools tend to perform best on men with lighter skin and worst on women with darker skin

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Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro firmware update fixes Surface Pen accuracy issues
Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro firmware update fixes Surface Pen accuracy issues. Pixabay
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Addressing two weak points in the currently available face recognition technologies, Microsoft has updated its facial recognition tools that can better identify people with darker skin tones than before.

With the new improvements, the tools were able to reduce the error rates for men and women with darker skin by up to 20 times.

“For all women, the error rates were reduced by nine times. Overall, with these improvements, they were able to significantly reduce accuracy differences across the demographics,” Microsoft said in a blog post written by John Roach late on Tuesday.

Currently, facial recognition tools tend to perform best on men with lighter skin and worst on women with darker skin.

“That improvement addresses recent concerns that commercially available facial recognition technologies more accurately recognised gender of people with lighter skin tones than darker skin tones, and that they performed best on males with lighter skin and worst on females with darker skin,” Roach wrote.

Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

The higher error rates on females with darker skin highlights an industrywide challenge — Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are only as good as the data used to train them.

If a facial recognition system is to perform well across all people, the training dataset needs to represent a diversity of skin tones as well as factors such as hairstyle, jewellery and eyewear.

The team responsible for the development of facial recognition technology at Microsoft, which is available to customers as the Face API via Azure Cognitive Services, worked with experts on bias and fairness across Microsoft to improve a system called the gender classifier, focusing specifically on getting better results for all skin tones.

Also Read: Microsoft Brings AI-powered Visual Search to Bing

“We had conversations about different ways to detect bias and operationalise fairness. We talked about data collection efforts to diversify the training data. We talked about different strategies to internally test our systems before we deploy them,” said Hanna Wallach, Senior Researcher in Microsoft’s New York research lab.

Wallach and her colleagues provided “a more nuanced understanding of bias,” said Cornelia Carapcea, a Principal Programme Manager on the Cognitive Services team, and helped her team create a more robust dataset “that held us accountable across skin tones.” (IANS)

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Microsoft now Fixing ‘Surface Pen’ Inaccuracy Issues

Earlier, this year Microsoft launched a warranty replacement programme for Surface Pro 4 units affected by screen flickering issues

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Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro firmware update fixes Surface Pen accuracy issues
Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro firmware update fixes Surface Pen accuracy issues. Pixabay

Microsoft has reportedly curated a software fix for the inaccuracy of its stylus called “Surface Pen” for Surface Pro tablet users who have been facing issues on using the digital pen, while resting the hand on the screen.

“Microsoft has been investigating a fix, and the latest Surface Pro firmware update, available on Windows Update now addresses problems with ‘palm rejection affecting Surface Pen accuracy’,” The Verge reported late on Thursday.

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Microsoft had claimed earlier that “Surface Pen” was the fastest digital stylus in the world shortly before Apple fired back with an even faster “Apple Pencil.” Pixabay

The solution comes as a relief to the Surface Pro owners because the inaccuracy of the “Surface Pen” got treated by a simple software fix instead of involving unit replacements.

“Affected users have confirmed pen strokes are now fully accurate when resting a hand on the Surface Pro screen,” the report added.

Also Read: Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 9, Will be Manufactured in India’s Largest Plant

Microsoft had claimed earlier that “Surface Pen” was the fastest digital stylus in the world shortly before Apple fired back with an even faster “Apple Pencil.”

Earlier, this year Microsoft launched a warranty replacement programme for Surface Pro 4 units affected by screen flickering issues. (IANS)