Facebook has open-sourced its computer vision software, the artificial intelligence technology it uses to detect objects in photos and identify what they are. By sharing that code, Mark Zuckerberg's company is making it possible for other businesses to implement it in their own apps and websites.
"Facebook is making impressive progress in increasing the fidelity of object detection," said Jay Wright, president and general manager of Vuforia, an augmented reality platform that uses computer vision. "Open sourcing this research will increase the possibilities for developers--initially for photo/video tagging applications and ultimately for augmented reality."
Facebook joins Google, Microsoft, and a growing list of other companies that are sharing their technologies with outside developers. The technology becomes smarter the more it is used, so ultimately these companies also stand to benefit from open-sourcing.
"It's very good to see machine learning research be published and open sourced," said Peter Hudson, CEO of the tech startup Shelfie. Hudson's company uses computer vision to detect the content of people's bookshelves in order to give them the e-book and audiobook versions of books they already own.
In April, Facebook released a feature that describes objects in photos for its blind users--another technology that stands to be improved as a result of Facebook's decision to open-source its computer vision software. The company also hopes developers will find entirely new ways to use the feature.
"You could imagine one day being able to upload a photo of your morning bagel and this technology could identify the nutritional value of that bagel because we were able to detect, segment, and identify what was in the picture," a Facebook spokeswoman said.