One of the things Google spoke about the most during the I/O conference this year was how much advancements in A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) played a role in software improvements. The implementation of Real Tone for Pixel with the launch of the Pixel 6 line sought to improve the representation of diverse skin tones across all of Google’s products. To achieve that, Google partnered with Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk to develop a new skin tone scale called the “Monk Skin Tone Scale.”
The MST – or Monk Skin Tone Scale – was designed to be more inclusive of our society’s variety of skin tones. Google announced at I/O that they would be openly releasing it so that anyone could use it for research and product development. Additionally, Google promised that they would start using the MST Scale to improve existing products, such as Google Photos, by launching a new set of Real Tone filters designed to work well with various skin tones.
Google kept that promise and yesterday announced via Twitter that the Real Tone filters in Google Photos were starting to roll out on Android, iOS, and the web. Once applied, the filter will identify itself as being “Made with Real Tone” with a small popup banner at the bottom of the preview. The new filters are Playa, Honey, Isla, Desert, and Clay.
The implementation in Google Photos is seamless. I was very pleased with the results I saw as I played around with applying the filters on existing photos with family members of different skin tones. The filters look natural and subtle, as if the only change in the environment was the lighting angle. I see myself using these filters quite a bit and am looking forward to Google implementing the MST scale in more products in the future.