Google touts more inclusive camera with more accurate skin tones

Engineers are working on auto white balance, auto exposure algorithms and more images to diversify its skin tone dataset.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert

Google wants to diversify its camera.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google is working with industry experts to launch "a more accurate and inclusive camera ," the tech giant announced during Google I/O 2021 on Tuesday. Camera tools have not historically taken people of color into account, the company said. 

"For people of color, photography has not always seen us as we want to be seen on Google products to make smartphone photography truly for everyone," said Sameer Samat, Google vice president of Android and Google Play. 

As part of the product inclusivity project, Google said its engineers partnered with image making experts who have used thousands of images to "diversify our image datasets" to create a "guidebook to capture skin tones," improve auto exposure algorithms and overhaul auto white balance accuracy.

"We're making auto white balance adjustments to algorithmically reduce stray light, to bring out natural brown tones and prevent over brightening and desaturation of darker skin tones," Samat said. "We're also able to reflect wavy hair types more accurately in selfies with new algorithms that better separate a person from the background in any image."

The improved camera system will be launched on Google Pixel this fall.