Facebook AI Engine for iOS 'Reads' Photos for Vision-Impaired Users

By eWEEK Staff  |  Posted 2016-04-07 Print this article Print

DAILY VIDEO: Photos on iOS now accessible to blind users; WhatsApp user chats now feature default end-to-end encryption; IBM extends spark to mainframe for real-time insights; and there's more.

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Read more about the stories in today's news:


Today's topics include a new feature on Facebook for iOS that uses AI to allow visually impaired users to "see" photos, WhatsApp's implementation of end-to-end data encryption to protect its users, IBM's new z/OS Platform for Apache Spark provides real-time access to mainframe data for faster analysis and Nvidia's Iray VR technology for creating virtual worlds

Facebook users who are blind or visually impaired will now be able to "see" photos posted by their friends on Facebook by hearing audio descriptions of the images read to them through screen reader applications on iOS devices.

The process, which Facebook calls automatic alternative text, uses object recognition technology to analyze the photos and then describe what the images are showing. The technology reads the description aloud to the user, according to an announcement by Facebook.

Each day, more than 2 billion photos are posted by users on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, which are essentially inaccessible to visually-impaired users.

After two years of work, WhatsApp has announced that its popular mobile chat app now uses default end-to-end data encryption to protect the privacy of its users from hackers or electronic eavesdroppers.

In an April 5 post on the WhatsApp Blog, the company wrote, "The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to," the post continued.

The latest version of WhatsApp makes the encryption a default choice all the time, but users could change the setting if desired.

IBM has released its new z/OS Platform for Apache Spark to help give data scientists and developers real-time, secure access to mainframe data.

The new offering makes it easier and faster for users to access and analyze data in-place on the IBM z Systems mainframe to deliver real-time insights, according to IBM.

Spark runs natively on the z/OS mainframe operating system so users can analyze data on the mainframe without having to extract, transform and load or break the connection between the analytics library and underlying file system.

Nvidia is adding another technology to its virtual reality portfolio as its engineers continue to address challenges in a technology that has become popular with consumers, but holds even greater promise in the professional and enterprise worlds.

On the first day of Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference on April 5, executives unveiled the GPU maker's Iray VR technology, which is designed to enable developers to create virtual worlds in what co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang called "photoreal" detail.


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