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.
As 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.
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.
Internet 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.
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.
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?