Google products are getting better at representing different skin tones
One of the struggles people of color face in the digital world is the lack of proper representation. After all, plenty of algorithms and software don’t have all skin tones in mind. This can make people feel misrepresented or left out when trying to use certain services and getting results that don’t match them. One example is applying filters in a photo editing app, only to be disappointed with the lighting of the output — as it doesn’t suit your skin color. Another struggle is looking for makeup ideas online but not finding images of people who look similar to you. This makes it hard to find the right colors and shades that complement your looks. Fortunately, Google is working on better representing different skin tones on some of its products.
During Google I/O 2022, the company announced that it’s starting to better represent skin tones on some of its products. The Alphabet-owned corporation will be implementing Harvard professor Dr. Ellis Monk’s scale in Search and Photos. The Monk Skin Tone Scale includes ten different shades — an effort that took the professor 10 years of studying the effects of colorism on people’s lives.
“In our research, we found that a lot of the time people feel they’re lumped into racial categories, but there’s all this heterogeneity with ethnic and racial categories,” Dr. Monk says. “And many methods of categorization, including past skin tone scales, don’t pay attention to this diversity. That’s where a lack of representation can happen…we need to fine-tune the way we measure things, so people feel represented.”
Google Search results will start to show a skin tone selector on certain queries. This would better refine the results accordingly and surface what you’re more likely to be seeking. The company will also be rolling out new Real Tone filters in its Photos app in the coming weeks. Additionally, to encourage other companies to better represent different skin tones, Google is openly releasing the scale for others to use it in research and development.
On which products do you want to see the Monk Skin Tone Scale adopted? Let us know in the comments section today.