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What is the Monk Skin Tone scale?

Google has introduced the new Monk Skin Tone scale which is supposed to better represent all skin tones in pictures. Here is everything you need to know.

Announced at Google I/O 2022, the Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale has been designed to be more inclusive of the various skin tones that crop up in society, allowing more people to accurately find information that relates to them.

But why is the MST important, and who developed it? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Monk Skin Tone scale.

Who developed the Monk Skin Tone scale?

The MST scale was developed in partnership with Google and with Harvard professor Dr Eliis Monk, who has been studying how skin tone and colourism affect people’s lives for the last 10 years.

In a Google blog post, Dr Monk says, “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.”

“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.”

What is the Monk Skin Tone scale meant to do?

The MST is a 10-shade scale supposed to help improve the colour and racial representation in google search results, meaning that it should be easier for people with darker skin to information that is pertinent to them.

The Monk Skin Tone scale

For example, Google claims that someone who is searching for makeup or hair tutorials will be able to further refine their search by skin tone, meaning that their search will be more related and helpful to them.

Google has said that in the future the MST scale will be incorporated to better detect and rank images to include a broader range of results immediately so people may not even have to filter by skin tone every time. It should also come as a way to label web content, so that creators can tag their content with their skin tone, hair colour or hair texture, to make it easier for people to find it.

The MST scale is also going to be built into Google Photos, where it should become a new set of Real Tone filters that should work across all skin tones. For anyone out of the loop, Real Tone was announced with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and has been developed to better capture darker skin tones in pictures.

Where will I be able to use the Monk Skin Tone scale?

Google has said that it is planning to roll out these new Monk Skin Tone and Real Tone features across Android, iOS 15 and its web services over the next couple of months. We would expect that some of the features will appear quicker than others on some devices.

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