Infrared LED Glasses Help Evade Facial Recognition

How to Keep Your Face Private in Public

If walking in public and having your mug wind up in the facial recognition database of a business or government bugs you, take heart… it could be easier than you think to foil the technology and maintain your anonymity.

Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku.com reports on a Japanese researcher, Isao Echizen who, last December, demonstrated a pair of glasses designed to prevent digital cameras from capturing usable facial images by creating severe glare around the eyes and nose that is invisible to the human eye.

Infrared LED Glasses Help Evade Facial Recognition
Isao Echizen’s Infrared LED Glasses for Evading Facial Recongition Courtesy of Kotaku.com

The glasses create the glare using 11 infrared LED lights. In turn, facial recognition software is rendered useless because the area around the eyes and nose is one of the most significant in identifying a person.

While the glasses are bulky prototypes at this point, miniaturization and a makeover could make them the epitome of incognito fashion.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for simpler solutions, plain sunglasses can go a long way to protecting your likeness.

In September 2010, Forbes staff writer Andy Greenberg reported on Alex Kilpatrick’s then upcoming presentation at the Web 2.0 Conference in New York on evading positive identification by facial recognition software.

Kilpatrick, a serial software entrepreneur in the facial recognition space, demonstrated how to defeat a widely used facial recognition algorithm known as Eiegenfaces using an off the shelf software that incorporates it called Neurotechnology.

The key to successfully thwarting identification was to avoid symmetry in facial appearance such as hair over one eye or the extreme makeup tactics shown in the bottom row of the image below.

Effectiveness of Different Techniques to Avoid Facial Recognition
Effectiveness of Different Techniques to Avoid Facial Recognition Courtesy of Forbes.com

Because the area around the eyes and nose is so important from the software’s point of view, adding or removing facial hair did little to lower Kilpatrick’s own recognizability.

In the end, a cheap pair of sunglasses was the most convenient, foolproof approach.

Now, Echizen’s infrared LED glasses, takes this game of cat and mouse up a notch.

What do you think?

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Using your computer with intuitive gaze technology

Photo courtesy of Tobii Technology
Photo courtesy of Tobii Technology

Technology has already simplified our lives in innumerable ways, but now Sweden-based Tobii Technology is looking to up the ante.

The company specializes in “gaze interaction,” an intuitive technology that allows users to rely not on a mouse or trackpad for computer navigation and control, but rather the eyes.

With the announcement of its newest product, Tobii REX comes a promise of a limited number of units – 5,000 to be exact – that will be available for purchase in the latter half of the year. Caution: it is only compatible with machines using Windows 8.

The product, similar in appearance to Kinect, is a bar that attaches to the computer via a USB connection. While the use of a mouse and trackpad won’t immediately become obsolete, a user can decide him or herself how much of the computer tasks are controlled by eyes.

Google Glasses

Will Object Recognition Drive Growth or Slash Jobs?

As we enter 2013, prognostications abound regarding object recognition technology and its likely impact on the economy, jobs and the human condition.

Some paint a grim picture of human obsolescence and slow growth. Others, a Utopian image of humans and machines extending each other’s capabilities that unlocks new economic vistas for the benefit of all.

In the less sanguine camp is Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman who takes issue with the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) seemingly pat assumption that long term growth will occur at about the same rates we’ve seen for the past few decades.

Google Glasses
Google Glasses Courtesy of Google, Inc.
On the more optimistic side is Bianca Bosker, Executive Tech Editor for the Huffington Post. She does a masterful job synthesizing a wide array of sources to make a balanced case.

Writing in the New York Times, Krugman points to Robert Gordon of Northwestern University and his contention that the age of growth that began in the late 1700s may be drawing to a close. He sees Gordon’s reasoning as a useful basis for doubting the CBO’s projections, however, Krugman does not agree with Gordon.

Gordon contends that growth has occurred unevenly owing to several discrete industrial revolutions that took us to the next level of major growth. The first was the steam engine. The second was the internal combustion engine, electrification and chemical engineering. The third is the information age and the Internet where smart machines are the payoff for fewer people than was the case in the second revolution.

Krugman posits that machines with ever-improving artificial intelligence and object recognition capabilities will likely fuel higher productivity and economic growth. He even states it would be “all too easy” to fear that smart machines will bring about the mass obsolescence of American workers.

If so, is Krugman saying the CBO’s long term projections are too conservative? Could this be a silver lining of sorts? He then asks the more unsettling question, “Who will benefit from this growth?”

Krugman promises in a future column to take up why the conventional wisdom underpinning long run budget projections is “all wrong.” And when he does, we should get a clearer view of his take on the roles object recognition, machine learning and human beings will play in the economy of tomorrow.

Bosker, in striking a balance between human obsolescence and human empowerment, seconds Kevin Kelly’s prediction in Wired that “robo surgeons” and “nannybots” will surely take over human jobs.

She then explores Google’s Project Glass as an example of wearable computers soon to arrive that observe and record our surroundings like an add-on brain.

Bosker quotes AI researcher Rod Furlan who speculates that Google Glass could soon help us find misplaced car keys. She predicts facial recognition will help us remember people’s names as soon as they come into view and bypass a potentially awkward encounter. And that object recognition could encourage us to skip an indulgent food we’d best not eat.

Ultimately, Bosker holds that big data married with gut instinct offers us an opportunity to stake out new professions as laid out by New York Times writer, Steve Lohr in his story, “Sure, Big Data Is Great. But So Is Intuition.” 

So what’s your gut telling you? As wearable computers become more affordable, how do you see them revolutionizing your business?

Kinect cameras may help detect autism

There are stories of new innovative games or programs being developed daily, thanks to the release of Microsoft’s Kinect. However, at the Institute of Child Development in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this technology is being used to help detect autism.

Researchers have installed Kinect cameras in a nursery, which, when combined with specific algorithms, are trained to observe children. The cameras are able to identify children based on their clothing and size, and then compare information about how active the children are as compared to their “classmates,” highlighting those who are more or less active than the average, which could be markers for autism.

Children who show signs of interacting less socially or not possessing fully developed motor skills – indicators of autism – will then be referred to doctors who can better analyze individual cases. While the purpose is not to detect autism 100 percent, the hopes are that this program will pinpoint students who may be cause for concern and catch them early.

Additionally, the creators are working to make the program more advanced, in that it will be able to detect if a child is capable of following an object, as autistic children often have trouble making eye contact, among other things.

Already, some centers are using Kinect not to detect autism, but to help children with it learn to interact socially with others as well as better their own skills.

How else might Kintect assis in detecting or treating autism? What other medical fields might be able to use Kinect to an advantage?

Augmented reality right before our eyes

Google is taking computer vision into its own hands and may soon be transferring it into yours.

The California-based Internet and software corporation recently revealed information that it is working on a new project and product, entitled Project Glass. The project is based around a pair of glasses that see, analyze and interpret the world around its wearer. It combines computer vision, eye motion, voice recognition, object recognition and more, to create something which takes every day stimuli and turns it into information that is immediately accessible.

According to an article in today’s edition of the New York Times, “the glasses can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.”

How this will change the way people interact is a major question that people have. Additionally, many feel that our brains are already overstimulated by all the endless amounts of information available to us. Will this make things even worse? Or do these glasses have the potential to streamline the way we go about our daily lives?

ComputerVision… literally

They’re called smartphones for a reason, and beginning next year, Android cell phones will implement technology allowing users to control their devices with their eyes, giving the term ComputerVision a much more literal meaning.

The technology, developed by Senseye, is a form of ComputerVision which uses the combination of a camera, algorithms and a user’s eyes to not only sense what a user is looking at but also control and use programs and applications without the user needing to do so much as lift a finger.

The benefits of eye controls seem to be limitless. In addition to allowing users to play games on their phones, open programs, or use automatic scrolling in browsers, it could also serve useful to handicap or paralyzed individuals who don’t have function of their hands but still want to use phones or computers.

But just how far-fetched is this technology? Is it more novelty that useful? And just as the use of computers has given rise to potential problems with carpal-tunnel syndrome, could eye-controlled technology have a negative effect on vision?