Microsoft's improved facial recognition tech aims for inclusion

The technology now works better across all skin tones and genders. Because everyone deserves to be tracked by computers.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Microsoft wants to get better at recognizing your face. 


Facial recognition systems might recognize you better now.

Microsoft on Tuesday said it has updated its facial recognition technology to improve recognition across all skin tones and genders. The company said it reduced the error rates by up to 20 times for skin tone.

The improvement comes as people have raised concerns that current facial recognition systems perform best on males with lighter skin and worst on females with darker skin, said Microsoft.

"Collecting more data that captures the diversity of our world and being careful about how to measure performance are important steps toward mitigating these issues," said Ece Kamar, a senior researcher at Microsoft, in a blog post.

Despite become more common for things like unlocking phones and tagging friends on social media, facial recognition technology is still controversial.

On Monday, the Orlando Police Department stopped using facial technology from Amazon, whose Rekognition software drew complaints from the ACLU and from Amazon employees for being sold to law enforcement. Last month, a report published by The Independent said that facial recognition software used by the Metropolitan Police in the UK was accurate only about 2 percent of the time

Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.