Portal’s Smart Camera uses advanced computer vision to dynamically frame shots during video calls. Even in a room with people moving around and interacting, Smart Camera uses a variety of AI systems to decide how best to accommodate multiple subjects as they move in-and-out of view. During an early pre-launch test of Portal, Lade Obamehinti noticed something wasn’t right.
“I was talking about how much I liked french toast and gesticulated a lot. I became the visual point of interest; the obvious point of interest,” says Obamehinti, who leads technical strategy for Facebook’s AR/VR software team. Instead of focusing on the person speaking, the pre-production version of Portal’s AI-powered Smart Camera prioritized a different subject. “It zoomed in on my white, male colleague instead of me.”
The AI system in this pre-launch test should have picked up on Obamehinti’s animated story about French toast, so what caused it to ignore her and focus on someone else? Obamehinti, a Nigerian-American born and raised in Dallas, was working on the Portal Software Quality team at the time. Instead of simply filing a bug report and moving on, she asked herself how someone else might react if the same thing had happened to them, and what she could do to make sure that didn’t happen.