The Google Pixel 6 Super Bowl LVI commercial is basic in premise but incredible in execution — and monumental for what it represents for people of color. The spot, featuring an unreleased song (“If You Love Me”) and appearance from Grammy Award-winning artist Lizzo, showcases real images of individuals and families from all different walks of life. This means different skin colors and tones, all looking stunning and brilliant. The commercial also highlights issues that people with darker complections face, problems that non-POC people may not even know about. (“Every single yearbook photo of mine has been terribly shot as a kid.” “I always show up as too dark or shiny.”)
Now, thanks to Google’s new Real Tone technology, everyone — no matter the color of their skin — can glow and have the photos they deserve. Lizzo’s song amplifies the message of how “all of me, everything the light touches” deserves to be featured beautifully. This commercial shows not just the power of Pixel 6’s camera with Real Tone or how Lizzo’s voice is a blessing to us all, but how this is a much-needed shift in the way technology can be more inclusive.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the first smartphones with Real Tone. Google notes that “historically, camera technology has excluded people of color, especially those with darker skin tones. A lack of diverse testing means that today’s cameras can carry that same bias, delivering unflattering photos for people of color.” With technology favoriting lighter (i.e., white) skin tones, Google “vastly improved our camera tuning models and algorithms to more accurately highlight the nuances of diverse skin tones” with the new Real Tone software.
This means that Pixel 6 with Real Tone will have better face detection, recognizing all facial features and not those commonly associated with light-skinned individuals. There is a better auto-white balance, which captures the nuances of all skin tones for a warmer, fuller photo. The auto-exposure has been changed to make sure that skin tones look natural, not lighter or darker. The reduced stray light feature reduces the amount of lighting that makes dark skin tones look washed out. Less blurry portraits are possible now that there’s a Face Unblur feature, allowing people with darker skin in low light to have sharper portraits. Finally, the experts who worked on Real Tone improved Google Photos’ auto-enhance software that makes sure everyone feels beautiful in their photos regardless of skin color.
There are many things to love about this ad: the unreleased Lizzo song; the cameo by Lizzo herself; the beautiful faces that make up this glorious blue dot of a planet. Perhaps the best thing is that Google is taking steps to correct a problem that not many people know about. And since this commercial raises awareness of that problem, people who see it might then look at the world differently.