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What is Google’s new skin tone scale and how it fights colour bias

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Google recently revealed that they are conducting a skintone research, using artificial intelligence to make products more inclusive and diverse. The research aims to further enhance Monk’s Skin Tone Scale (MST) which uses artificial intelligence to create an updated skintone metric that combats light skintone bias.

Google is conducting the research with Harvard University associate professor Ellis Monk. Google says, the Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale will ‘support inclusive product and research across the industry’. Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is a tool that will be primarily incorporated by Google into computer vision, which is a type of AI that allows computers to see and understand images.

Read | New feature for Google Chrome users on Android will help restore tabs in a click

Google said its new Monk Skin Tone Scale replaces a flawed standard of six colours known as the Fitzpatrick Skin Type, which had become popular in the tech industry to assess whether smartwatch heart-rate sensors, artificial intelligence systems including facial recognition and other offerings show colour bias.

Monk said Fitzpatrick is great for classifying differences among lighter skin. But most people are darker, so he wanted a scale that ‘does better job for the majority of world’, he said.

How useful is Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale?

The Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is a 10-point skintone scale that aims to be more representative of those with deeper skintones.

Google adopted MST Scale for use across its software and products to ensure all kinds of skin tones are accurately portrayed and represented on the internet.

It provides a huge contrast from the more popular Fitzpatrick scale which was developed in the 1970s that simply demonstrate how fair skin would look with a tan.

The Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is good for possibly expanding AI-powered skintone matching in beauty shopping.

It also aims to change the game when it comes to skin type assessment in dermatology, as well as improved app development for other skin-related concerns.

The 10-point scale has been validated through a US study by Google Research, which asked different communities people if their skin tone was represented on it. 

Google surveyed around 3,000 people across the US and found that a significant number said a 10-point scale matched their skin as well as a 40-shade palette did.

It is also being deployed to ensure a range of people are satisfied with filter options in Google Photos and that the company’s face-matching software is not biased.



Google recently revealed that they are conducting a skintone research, using artificial intelligence to make products more inclusive and diverse. The research aims to further enhance Monk’s Skin Tone Scale (MST) which uses artificial intelligence to create an updated skintone metric that combats light skintone bias.

Google is conducting the research with Harvard University associate professor Ellis Monk. Google says, the Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale will ‘support inclusive product and research across the industry’. Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is a tool that will be primarily incorporated by Google into computer vision, which is a type of AI that allows computers to see and understand images.

Read | New feature for Google Chrome users on Android will help restore tabs in a click

Google said its new Monk Skin Tone Scale replaces a flawed standard of six colours known as the Fitzpatrick Skin Type, which had become popular in the tech industry to assess whether smartwatch heart-rate sensors, artificial intelligence systems including facial recognition and other offerings show colour bias.

Monk said Fitzpatrick is great for classifying differences among lighter skin. But most people are darker, so he wanted a scale that ‘does better job for the majority of world’, he said.

How useful is Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale?

The Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is a 10-point skintone scale that aims to be more representative of those with deeper skintones.

Google adopted MST Scale for use across its software and products to ensure all kinds of skin tones are accurately portrayed and represented on the internet.

It provides a huge contrast from the more popular Fitzpatrick scale which was developed in the 1970s that simply demonstrate how fair skin would look with a tan.

The Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale is good for possibly expanding AI-powered skintone matching in beauty shopping.

It also aims to change the game when it comes to skin type assessment in dermatology, as well as improved app development for other skin-related concerns.

The 10-point scale has been validated through a US study by Google Research, which asked different communities people if their skin tone was represented on it. 

Google surveyed around 3,000 people across the US and found that a significant number said a 10-point scale matched their skin as well as a 40-shade palette did.

It is also being deployed to ensure a range of people are satisfied with filter options in Google Photos and that the company’s face-matching software is not biased.

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