Determining familial matches with Facial Recognition

Photo courtesy of UCF
Photo courtesy of UCF

Last month, researchers at the University of Central Florida presented a new facial recognition tool at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Columbus, Ohio. 

While there is no shortage of facial recognition tools used by companies and governments the world over, this one is unique in that its aim is to unite or reunite children with their biological parents.

The university’s Center for Research in Computer Vision initially got to work by creating a database of more than 10,000 images of famous people–such as politicians and celebrities–and their children.

It works by using a specially designed algorithm that breaks the face down into sections, and using various facial parts as comparisons; they are then sorted according to which matches are the most likely.

Though software for this purpose already exists, this tool was anywhere from 3 to 10 percent better than those programs, and it naturally surpasses the recognition capabilities of humans, who base their decisions on appearance rather than the actual science of it. It also reaffirmed the fact that sons resemble their fathers more than their mothers, and daughters resemble their mothers more than their fathers.

What other ways could this tool be useful?

Makeup can mask facial recognition

004795_10_fig2As advancements in facial recognition are made, many people have become increasingly worried about protecting or maintaining their privacy. And while there are ways to hide or obscure a face, it has been thought by many that makeup wasn’t enough to fool that cameras.

However, researchers in Michigan and West Virginia have set out to disprove such an idea, demonstrating how makeup actually can change the appearance of an individual. While the way someone’s head is held, the expressions he or she may make, and the lighting don’t confuse computers, things such as natural aging or face-altering methods like plastic surgery can. Now, makeup can be added to the list.

This is because makeup can change the shape and texture of a face, by playing natural contours of the face up or down, changing the appearance of the quality and size of certain features, and even camouflaging identifying marks, including scars, birth marks, moles, or tattoos. Of course not a simple application of makeup is enough to do the rick, but heavy layers of makeup can be.

To find out more about this study and its aims, refer to an article on the subject that describes it in further detail.

Scramble Face service geared toward Internet users looking to protect their online presence

In a world with new computer vision-related software being introduced regularly, it’s no surprise that many consumers feel as though there is nothing they can do to protect themselves against an unwanted invasion of privacy.

However, just as companies come out with new facial recognition technology and algorithm-based programs, there are other companies that are helping customers gain a bit more control over how much of a presence they have on the web.

One example is VersusMedia, a Los Angeles-based company which launched Scramble Face in March, with a product targeted toward users wanting to locate and remove pictures of themselves that have been posted or indexed across the internet.

The premise is that in a world where potential employers and educators research applicants ahead of time, users should have some control over the content that appears on the Internet, be it something they posted or something that someone else uploaded.

Users who register with Scramble Face will upload pictures, and then pay for a 90-day period. During this time, the program continually scans the Internet for photos matching the individual, and provides a website name and number of pictures matched on each particular site.

What remains to be seen is whether the site helps with the removal process of identified photos, or simply makes users aware of images that exist, leaving them to deal with it on their own.

Accessing apps with facial recognition.

fastaccess-anywhereInternet privacy and security are important issues for just about everyone, and although creating strong passwords is a step toward keeping outsiders out of online accounts, they can still be hacked.

Companies like Sensible Vision are aware of this and have taken steps to make users feel safer. FastAccess Anywhere is the company’s newest app, available for Apple products and Androids. It relies on facial recognition technology as a replacement for passwords, logging users into sites and applications by recognizing their faces.

The idea was born out of the acknowledgement that not only is it difficult to remember passwords to various accounts, but also in recognition of how it’s not entirely easy to type in passwords on small touch screens.

In addition to facial recognition, the app also includes a “secret shape” that is chosen by the user, and used as a means of two-step verification. Users of Android devices are able to set permissions for apps of their choice so that privacy in email, banking, and social media is preserved, while gaming is still accessible by other uses the phone or device.

Facial recognition aids immigration crackdown in Australia

Image courtesy of australiantest.com
Image courtesy of australiantest.com

Illegal workers seem to be a given in various industries around the world, but now Australia has begun cracking own on those looking to exploit the system. How? With computer vision, of course.

Immigration officials in the land down under are using facial recognition software to identify people who have either created new identities or stolen those of legitimate persons in order to obtain employment.

In a recent raid on farm workers, six illegal persons were detained for over-staying their visas and working. This kind of capture not only causes problems for the illegal person, but also for the employers, who can be charges up to $66,000 for each illegal worker. Specific detail about what kind of programs are being used was not provided, but could entail collaborating with state and federal agency databases in Australia and abroad.

 

Technology used to recognize drivers and customize their experiences.

Imagine if your car could recognize you as its driver and act accordingly, customizing your driving experience.

With a new product designed by Delphi, this exact technology could be coming to your own car.

According to the company, the technology in question “uses a light source and camera to project a line pattern onto the subject’s face. The camera then ‘sees’ and records the subject’s two-dimensional (2D) facial fingerprint, comparing that image to a database of stored 2D facial fingerprints for a possible match. A ‘positive’ match with the proper stored image means the person is recognized. Recognition then triggers an action, for example, approval of a credit sale or unlocking of a door.”

Other possible uses for this are that the vehicle remembers settings, such as where the seat is positioned, what station the driver listens to, and how warm or cold the temperature should be.

However, although the technology was initially created for vehicles, it has other practical applications. Theoretically, any kind of security system requiring visual identification could benefit from this technology. What ways do you envision it being used?

Ecuador’s new voice and facial recognition system

Facial and voice recognition systems have become more prevalent over the years, but never before has an entire country taken a stand on the issue. Until now.

Ecuador is now the first country in the world to implement a countrywide biometric identification system using voice and facial recognition. In a partnership with the Speech Technology Center (STC) in Russia, the country will use these identification technologies in the war on crime.

The system in place includes a forensic database with photographs and recordings that can be matched up against any evidence in criminal investigations, by comparing samples an coming up with possible matches.

And whereas there are currently ways criminals can disguise their faces, disguising a voice is much more difficult, with a 97% accuracy in matching and identifying. Meanwhile, the two technologies used together equal a nearly infallible success rate.

Now with Ecuador on board, it will be interesting if other countries seek to have similar systems of their own in place.

Infrared camera aimed at individuals drunk in public

Photo courtesy of flickr user _sml

Although talk of facial recognition has been aimed at finding people guilty of alleged crimes or recognizing individuals for industry-related purposes, a new use has been found for this technology: identifying drunk people.

A paper published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics discusses a new infrared-camera algorithm developed at the University of Patras in Greece. It focuses on the heat dispersion on the faces of people in a crowd, paying attention to where blood vessels dilate at the skin’s surface. Drunk individuals tend to have more heat on their noses and less on their foreheads, information that could be beneficial to law enforcement officers in the field who are trying to detect from afar whether or not someone is under the influence of alcohol.

This blog is sponsored by ImageGraphicsVideo, a company offering ComputerVision Software Development Services.

Facial recognition software used to track presidential candidates’ emotions during debates

Image courtesy of wlfi.com

Purdue University professor Chris Kowal is using facial recognition software to track the emotions of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in real time during the debates. Dr. Kowal wants to see if there is a clear relationship between his findings and voters’ perceptions.

Universal emotions like happiness, fear, surprise, and others are easily detected by the facial recognition software as it maps the muscles of the face and their movement.

And since an emotional connection is essential to making sales, promoting brands, and winning over undecided voters, the applications for facial recognition software in marketing research are unlimited.

Dr. Kowal suggests that the ability of facial recognition software to track emotions alongside fact checking could be next fascinating area of research.

This blog is sponsored by ImageGraphicsVideo, a company offering ComputerVision Software Development Services.