Facebook Will Automatic Photos Subtitles for Visually Impaired People

More than 2 billion images are shared on Facebook every day services. This number includes photos circulating on Instagram and WhatsApp, which leaves no less impressive estimate. The problem of both content image is that users who have visual impairments can not enjoy them. But there is good news for this group: Facebook will soon have a feature that will generate automatic captions for the images.

Last week, Twitter launched a function with similar purpose. With it, users can put subtitles with up to 420 characters in images posted on the social network to describe them to people who access the service with the help of screen readers.

Already on Facebook, the feature will be more advanced: a system of neural networks analyze each shared image by to identify the objects present in it. The items recognized will be following, reported in the description of the photo.

Initially, only users who use screen reader from iOS (VoiceOver) may take advantage of novelty. Facebook explains that, until then, readers could only pronounce the name of the person who posted the afterimage of the term “photo”. Now descriptions like “the image appears to show three people smiling outdoors” should be routine.

Recognize objects in images is a challenge, but several companies are committed to developing this kind of technology. Google, for example, research the subject for some time to improve automatic classification of images on Google Photos. In the case of Facebook, the team responsible for the design work on the idea for at least five years.

The fruits of these efforts will be evaluated now. The Facebook itself acknowledges that the initial results may not be that interesting, but the company is confident: the recognition algorithm has been trained with millions of examples.

There is another important factor: this is a system that learns, therefore, the more use is made of it, the better it tends to be the recognition of objects in images. It is even possible that Facebook take advantage of this technology to give all users the option to organize photo albums more accurately.

But the priority of Facebook is even in the group with visual impairment: the company estimates that 39 million social network users are blind or have severe difficulty seeing.The company also estimates that 246 million other participants have a high level of visual impairment.

The automatic description of images begins to be made available this week for iOS users who use Facebook in English. But the company has warned, is in the plans offer the feature on other platforms and languages ​​as soon as possible.