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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
Microsoft's beta Android launcher has digital health feature. Pixabay

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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Tata Communications Partners Microsoft for Connected Car Applications

There will be additional capability to equip vehicles with encrypted vehicle-to-cloud connectivity globally through the Tata Communications' "MOVE" platform to address key challenges that complicate the creation of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications

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Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Tata Communications has announced it is working with Microsoft to help speed up the development of new innovative connected car applications.

By combining the IoT connectivity and network intelligence capabilities of Tata Communications’ “MOVEa platform with Microsoft’s “Connected Vehicle Platform”, the companies will enable automotive manufacturers to offer consumers seamless and secure driving experiences.

“In the not-too-distant future, you won’t view your car as a mode of transportation, you’ll view it as a mode of entertainment – and the opportunities that this opens up in areas like video streaming, retail, advertising and insurance are immense,” Anthony Bartolo, Chief Product Officer, Tata Communications, said in a statement late Wednesday.

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Tata Communications joins Microsoft in connected car space. IANS

Microsoft’s “Connected Vehicle Platform” combines Cloud and edge services with a strong partner network to empower automotive companies to build connected driving experiences.

There will be additional capability to equip vehicles with encrypted vehicle-to-cloud connectivity globally through the Tata Communications’ “MOVE” platform to address key challenges that complicate the creation of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications.

Also Read: Here’s Why CEO Jeff Bezos Decided Books to be Amazon’s First Product

This integration means that players within the connected car ecosystem – from manufacturers, dealerships, insurers to fleet operators and others – will be able to bring to market new value-added services more quickly and cost-effectively, and ensure that they offer drivers reliable, consistent user experiences, anywhere in the world.

“The integration will make analysing data from vehicles easier for car manufacturers across all services and allow them to complete software updates quickly. It will also help service centres maintain vehicles more effectively,” said Tara Prakriya, Partner Group Program Manager, Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform and Mobility, Microsoft. (IANS)