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In an update from its artificial intelligence team today, Facebook revealed that it has improved the automatic alternative text (AAT) technology it first introduced in 2016. With this system, Facebook is able to automatically add alternative text to images shared on its platform for users who are blind or visually impaired (BVI).
Alternative text included with uploaded images enables BVI users to learn about the content using a screen reader, which reads the text describing what the image presents. Many people do not provide alternative text when uploading images, which is where the AAT system and its object recognition capabilities come in.
In its update on the technology today, Facebook introduced the next generation of its automatic alternative text, one that it says utilizes 'multiple technological advances' that increase the concepts AAT is able to find in photos by 10x and enables the system to provide more detailed image descriptions for users.
With this update, Facebook says that more images will benefit from AAT going forward and that the text descriptions will provide users with more insight into the content, noting the presence of landmarks, animals and even the activities that may be taking place.
The next-generation of AAT is, according to Facebook, also the first of its kind able to include the approximate sizes and location of subjects in the photo, such as noting that a person in the photo is standing off to the side next to a tree that towers over them.
The first version of AAT relied on training data featuring objects in images labeled by humans. Facebook notes that because of the time-intensive nature of this type of training, its original AAT model would only 'reliably' identify 100 objects in images.
The next-generation model moves away from that learning method and instead utilizes 'weakly supervised data,' namely billions of photos shared publicly on Instagram with hashtags. Using language translation for hashtags and a bit of fine-tuning, Facebook explains that its new models:
...are both more accurate and culturally and demographically inclusive — for instance, they can identify weddings around the world based (in part) on traditional apparel instead of labeling only photos featuring white wedding dresses.
At this point in time, the AAT system is now able to reliably recognize and identify more than 1,200 concepts in images, with Facebook noting that it only includes concepts that the technology can handle with a certain high level of precision. Concepts that were identified with less precision were omitted from this version of AAT.
The next-generation AAT system is available in 45 languages on Facebook and Instagram. Users can choose to get more detailed descriptions for certain images that interest them, such as ones shared by family and friends.
Face recognition developer Paravision AI has been ordered to delete masses of user data it held and used illegally to create face recognition applications from the images stored on its former cloud storage service Ever. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that the company had made use of pictures uploaded to its service without permission, and that it sold the face recognition algorithms created to third party companies and organisations including law enforcement agencies.
Originally set up as a free cloud storage service for consumers the company that ran Ever soon discovered it couldn’t make as much money as expected, so it began harvesting data from the images its users uploaded to develop facial recognition software. It introduced a service called ‘Friends’ that it marketed as allowing users to easily tag their friends and which could filter images according to who was in them. This service was active by default, with only those in Illinois, Texas, Washington and the European Union – places that have laws about personal data and facial recognition – having the ability to decide whether the recognition software would be on or off.
The FTC also found that Ever didn’t delete images from accounts that were closed, as it was bound to do by its own terms, and that even when the service closed it kept all customers’ images and continued to use them to develop its software.
The ruling by the commission orders Paravision AI, the company’s new name, to delete all user images, all data it holds on those users as well as the algorithms it produced illegally using those pictures. Remarkably though the commission hasn’t fined the company or punished its owners. Commissioner Rohit Chopra from the FTC said in a statement that he is concerned that other than ordering its algorithms deleted the commission isn’t able to impose any penalty on Paravision for its illegal activities.
Since the ruling Paravision has announced it has both appointed a Chief AI Ethics Advisor and published a set of AI Principles 'to guide the ethical development and appropriate use of face recognition and related technologies'.
To find out more see the FTC website.
A California-based developer of a photo app has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it deceived consumers about its use of facial recognition technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts.
As part of the proposed settlement, Everalbum, Inc. must obtain consumers’ express consent before using facial recognition technology on their photos and videos. The proposed order also requires the company to delete models and algorithms it developed by using the photos and videos uploaded by its users.
“Using facial recognition, companies can turn photos of your loved ones into sensitive biometric data,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “Ensuring that companies keep their promises to customers about how they use and handle biometric data will continue to be a high priority for the FTC.”
Everalbum offered an app called “Ever” that allowed users to upload photos and videos from their mobile devices, computers, or social media accounts to be stored and organized using the company’s cloud-based storage service. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that, in February 2017, Everalbum launched a new feature in the Ever app, called “Friends,” that used facial recognition technology to group users’ photos by the faces of the people who appear in them and allowed users to “tag” people by name. Everalbum allegedly enabled facial recognition by default for all mobile app users when it launched the Friends feature.
Between July 2018 and April 2019, Everalbum allegedly represented that it would not apply facial recognition technology to users’ content unless users affirmatively chose to activate the feature. Although, beginning in May 2018, the company allowed some Ever app users—those located in Illinois, Texas, Washington and the European Union—to choose whether to turn on the face recognition feature, it was automatically active for all other users until April 2019 and could not be turned off.
The FTC’s complaint alleges that Everalbum’s application of facial recognition to Ever app users’ photos was not limited to providing the Friends feature. Between September 2017 and August 2019, Everalbum combined millions of facial images that it extracted from Ever users’ photos with facial images that Everalbum obtained from publicly available datasets to create four datasets for use in the development of its facial recognition technology. The complaint alleges that Everalbum used the facial recognition technology resulting from one of those datasets to provide the Ever app’s Friends feature and also to develop the facial recognition services sold to its enterprise customers; however, the company did not share images from Ever users’ photos or their photos, videos, or personal information with those customers.
According to the complaint, Everalbum also promised users that the company would delete the photos and videos of Ever users who deactivated their accounts. The FTC alleges, however, that until at least October 2019, Everalbum failed to delete the photos or videos of any users who had deactivated their accounts and instead retained them indefinitely.
The proposed settlement requires Everalbum to delete:
In addition, the proposed settlement prohibits Everalbum from misrepresenting how it collects, uses, discloses, maintains, or deletes personal information, including face embeddings created with the use of facial recognition technology, as well as the extent to which it protects the privacy and security of personal information it collects. Under the proposed settlement, if the company markets software to consumers for personal use, it must obtain a user’s express consent before using biometric information it collected from the user through that software to create face embeddings or develop facial recognition technology.
The Commission voted 5-0 to issue the proposed administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement with the company. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a separate statement.
The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Instructions for filing comments will appear in the published notice. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Winners, runners-up and honorable mentions were recently announced for the 7th annual Monochrome Photography Awards – an international Black & White photography competition. 7,096 photos were submitted from 91 countries.
A jury including Petra Leary, Alessandro Zanoni, Christina Dim, Vassilis Tangoulis, Olga Zavershinskaya and Pedro Dimitrow selected their favorite professional and amateur photos from 13 categories including Abstract, Conceptual, Photojournalism and Wildlife.
Ksystof Mozyro was declared the Overall Winner in the professional category for his image, 'Opponents,' depicting a heated standoff during a Black Lives Matter protest. Svetlin Yosifov received the title Monochrome Discovery of the Year 2020 in the amateur category for 'Portrait Woman Mursi' – an image captured in Southern Ethiopia's Omo Valley.
Monochrome is currently accepting submission for their 2021 competition.
Artist Statement: Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement, originating from within the African-American community, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police brutality and police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.
The movement returned to national headlines and gained further international attention during the global George Floyd protests in 2020 following Floyd's death by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He died after being arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. A white police officer, knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, leading to his death. Events of the arrest, death, and the actions of the officers have led to international Black Lives Matter protests, calls for police reform, and legislation to address racial inequalities. Protests erupted and have continued since, across many US cities, in Australia, France, the Netherlands and in the UK.
These photographs were taken on 6th June 2020, during the London protest. I found myself in the centre of the gathering, experiencing the whole range of human emotions and observing the uncommon behavior. The fact that the protest took place during the Covid-19 pandemic make this event even more significant.
Just around 11 PM, after many hours of standing in furious the crowd, I was taken for the police investigation. The officer interviewed me and checked the ID. Finally, I was able to leave but advised not to return to the city centre within 24 hours as this would result in being arrested.
Arist Statement: The Mursi tribe are an African tribe from the isolated Omo valley in Southern Ethiopia near the border with Sudan. The photo is part of the album "SECOND ETHIOPIAN TRIBES EXPEDITION" 2019. https://www.all-about-photo.com/photographers/photographer/909/svetlin-yosifov
Artist Statement: This is an aerial view of Cuejdel lake just before the complete frost. Cuejdel is the biggest natural dam from Romania, that's the explanation for these trees.
Artist Statement: Holidays in Chongqing recorded the local popular bookstore - Zhong Shugs.
The pavilion, after entering the bookstore, was struck by the sense of perspective of the interior space atmosphere, layer by layer.
The overlapping stairs resemble the rolling hills and the mountain city, one of Chongqing's famous names.
Echoing each other, the bookcase is full of this room, and there is a tall one in the upper aisle.
The book wall extends to the ceiling, and the ceiling is matched with a lot of mirror glass, depending on.
It feels like being in an upside-down world.
It reminds me Early Dutch artist-M. C. Escher- Relativity.
Artist Description: N/A
Artist Statement: I decided to use this photo because it was something I was never really into - outdoor flash photography. I've always loved creating timeless images, making images that looked like they were taken decades ago.
This photo was made in Vancouver, WA, USA. The model's name is Anna.
Artist Statement: Self-portrait. Inspired by the spanish expression "tener muchos pájaros en la cabeza" (literally translated like: have a lot of birds in head) which means to have a lot of imagination.
Artist Statement: HORSE MAN in Mt. Bromo, East Java - Indonesia.
Artist Statement: Recién aterrizado en el sur de Chile, zonas de muchos lagos y volcanes y gran naturaleza, ocurre la erupción del volcán Calbuco produciendo una escena aterradoramente hermosa, una gran nube tóxica crece hacia un cielo despejado, haciendo ver al vecino Volcán Osorno pequeño ante tremenda fuerza de la naturaleza.
Artist Statement: I enjoy playing with the digital dark room. One of the things I do is misuse software in this case I started with a stack of different shots of a tank with a staircase. I took these images and asked some software to align them as if they were the same image.
The repeating curves and the almost cacophony of lines was a great starting point. I don't know how the reads to others but for me it engages in intrigues my brain while somehow making me feel hopeful.
Artist Statement: Taken at Tokyo Plaza, Tokyo, May 2018.
In Tokyo, a city of constant motion, my aim was to capture the feel of never-ending hustle and bustle. The scene at this major pedestrian crossing during a heavy rain storm really captured the determination of the people to reach their destination. I used handheld long exposure (1/13 sec) to give enough blur to emphasise speed without removing the detail. Captured as a reflection in a multi-angled glass roof high above the crossing.
Artist Statement: The Gemsbok or oryx, Oryx Gazella, is an iconic symbol of Namibia, appearing on the country's coat of arms and is the national animal of Namibia. It is always amazing to photograph the animals in their natural habitat.
Lens manufacturer Irix has released the details of its new 45mm F1.4 Dragonfly lens for Fujifilm GFX camera systems.
The manual 45mm F1.4 Dragonfly lens offers a 35mm full-frame-equivalent field of view (62.64º) when used on Fujifilm’s GFX medium format cameras. It’s constructed of eleven elements in nine groups, including one aspherical element, one extra-low dispersion element and four high-refractive elements. The lens offers an aperture range from F1.4 to F22, has a minimum focusing distance of 40cm (15.75”), uses a nine-blade aperture diaphragm and has a 77mm front filter thread.
The lens is constructed of a magnesium housing and uses seals in five ‘key areas’ for improved protection against the elements. It features a smooth aperture ring and its focus ring offers 170º of rotation in addition to a focus lock switch. Irix also says the lens features less than 1% distortion. Its measurements come in at 87mm (3.43”) diameter, 144mm (5.67”) long and it weighs 1120g (2.47lbs).
The Irix 45mm F1.4 Dragonfly lens for Fujifilm GFX camera systems is available to pre-order for $795 (Adorama).
The Tamron 17-70mm F2.8 is a fast, large aperture zoom for Sony E-mount APS-C cameras. Does it hit the sweet spot between price and performance for an everyday zoom lens? We tested it to find out.
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If you're a Sony APS-C shooter in search of a versatile, walk-around zoom lens, the Tamron 17-70mm F2.8 should probably be on your short list. Check out our sample gallery and judge image quality for yourself.
Ilford Photo got its start way back in 1879 when Alfred Hugh Harman began making gelatin dry plates in his house in Ilford, United Kingdom. Since then, the Ilford name has had an established, respected presence in the photography industry.
The company has gone through different ownership over the past 142 years, but Ilford film is still made in the United Kingdom. In a new video tour, Exploredinary takes us behind the scenes at the Ilford film factory in Mobberley, England. Viewers are treated not only to a behind-the-scenes look at how one of the most iconic film companies makes its products, but we also hear from scientists and workers at Ilford to learn about making film.
|Ilford factory in Mobberley, England|
The site featured below in the excellent video below, filmed and edited by Sarah Reyes and Daniel Driensky, has been used by Ilford since 1928. Many products have been made here over the last 90-plus years. Today, Ilford manufactures black and white films, paper, and chemicals for analog photography.
Making photographic film and paper starts with a key ingredient, photographic emulsion. This component comprises silver halide crystals dispersed in gelatin. The photosensitive emulsion is kept in cold storage and then spread on a photographic film or paper base. Since it's photosensitive, Ilford creates the emulsion in complete darkness. The silver halide crystals' size impacts important aspects of the film, such as its grain and ISO speed. The more and bigger the crystals, the faster the speed.
Before the emulsion is spread on film and paper, it must first be tested by a team of research scientists. The emulsion is tested for different characteristics, including granularity and hardness. Once the R&D team gives an emulsion the go-ahead, it is scaled up to production, and the coating process begins.
|Lab technician Sylvia Clarke inspects coating as part of the R&D process|
Film and paper are fed through machines and coated with different layers of chemical compounds and emulsion at speeds up to 3,200 meters per second. In the video, we see coating machine #14. A bit of superstition is involved in the naming, as coating machine #14 is the thirteenth machine, but workers didn't want to call it coating machine #13. After coating, film and paper are dried slowly over time to prevent imperfections. Scanners constantly monitor the product to ensure quality and consistency.
The massive rolls of coated photosensitive material then need to be transported for the next step in the process, finishing. The finishing area is in another building, and the only path is outside. The photosensitive film and paper must be placed in what the team calls 'coffins' to keep light off the product as it moves on to finishing.
|35mm film canisters are sorted by a hopper before the correct film, as determined by barcode scanning, is inserted and the canister is prepared for final packaging.|
During the finishing process, the coated film is cut to 35mm in width. Each 35mm wide roll is about 600m in length. The film must be cut into 24 or 36 exposure lengths and placed in metal cassettes, manufactured by Ilford. Once the film has been paired with a cassette, it must move to packaging. 120 film, on the other hand, is not placed into a cassette but is rather wrapped around a plastic core with plastic backing and then packaged.
While all of this is taking place, quality control is hard at work, addressing any potential issues found during the rest of the production process. The finished, packaged film is then sent to the in-house warehouse, where it awaits orders, both within the United Kingdom and internationally.
If you're interested in learning more about film production, we published a Kodak factory tour earlier this month.
Qualcomm has introduced its new Snapdragon 870 5G mobile platform, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that's essentially a refreshed version of its Snapdragon 865+ chipset. This new SoC is made for manufacturers who want to release high-end phones this year without using the more expensive Snapdragon 888 SoC, which was revealed last week.
The biggest change with the Snapdragon 870 5G over the 865 models is its faster speed at 3.2GHz versus the 865's 2.84GHz and the 865 Plus's 3.1GHz. The new model packs the company's Kyro 585 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU, as well as 'truly global' 5G connectivity with both mmWave and sub-6GHz support.
Qualcomm touts the Snapdragon 870 5G platform as enabling high-end mobile gameplay via Snapdragon Elite Gaming with 10-bit color depth and true HDR. Among other things, the 870 platform includes Qualcomm's Spectra 480 image signal processor and 14-bit computer vision hardware accelerators.
The mobile platform enables up to a single 200MP camera, as well as recording 720p video at up to 960fps slow motion. The Snapdragon 870 5G likewise supports 4K video recording with simultaneous 64MP image capture, 8K video capture at 30fps, up to 10-bit color depth, and Rec. 2020 color gamut. Video capture formats include HDR10 and HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG; photo capture support comes in the form of HEIF.
These are essentially the same camera specs found on the Snapdragon 865 Plus platform, which isn't surprising since both the 865 and 870 sport the Spectra 480 ISP. The Snapdragon 870 5G's display specs, meanwhile, include support for displays up to 4K/60Hz or QHD+/144Hz, as well as external 4K/60Hz displays, HDR10 and HDR10+, 10-bit color depth and Rec. 2020 color gamut.
According to Qualcomm's VP of Product Management Kedar Kondap, the 870 5G mobile platform will be available in flagships from a number of phone makers this year, including devices form iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, OPPO, Xiaomi and others.