Facebook improves alt text photo descriptions

Facebook improves alt text photo descriptions

Facebook has launched an update for its Automatic Alt Text (AAT) feature to help blind and visually impaired users.

The tool - which launched in 2016 and provides photo descriptions - uses computer vision tech to automatically create descriptions. Now, AAT can recognize over 10 times more objects and concepts in photos on Facebook and Instagram, with a total of over 1,200.

In a blog post, the company said:

"The latest iteration of AAT represents multiple technological advances that improve the photo experience for our users. First and foremost, we’ve expanded the number of concepts that AAT can reliably detect and identify in a photo by more than 10x, which in turn means fewer photos without a description."

Facebook has also boosted the detail in descriptions, and an "industry first" regarding "location and relative size".

The post continues:

"Descriptions are also more detailed, with the ability to identify activities, landmarks, types of animals, and so forth — for example, 'May be a selfie of 2 people, outdoors, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.' And we’ve achieved an industry first by making it possible to include information about the positional location and relative size of elements in a photo.

So instead of describing the contents of a photo as 'May be an image of 5 people,' we can specify that there are two people in the centre of the photo and three others scattered toward the fringes, implying that the two in the centre are the focus. Or, instead of simply describing a lovely landscape with 'May be a house and a mountain,' we can highlight that the mountain is the primary object in a scene based on how large it appears in comparison with the house at its base."

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