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.

Computer vision “textbook” for high school students

Computer Vision can seem like a daunting field to those not familiar with it. However, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has created an online, interactive “textbook” geared at teaching high school students more about this creative, emerging field.

Just watch this video to see how easy explaining Computer Vision can be and how applicable it is in our everyday lives.

Computer Science Field Guide: Computer Vision from Tim Bell on Vimeo.

New PayPal system allows users to make in-store purchases more easily

Photo courtesy of The Sunday Telegraph
Photo courtesy of The Sunday Telegraph

Smartphones have been revolutionizing the way we go about our lives bit by bit. And now, your iPhone or Android will soon be standing in for cash and cards if you so choose — at least if you live in Australia.

New technology, unveiled earlier this month by PayPal, allows users to make transactions in select stores without all the fanfare and hassle that can accompany it.

What users do is check into the store, much like one would with a FourSquare application. They are able to place orders and use their PayPal accounts to buy things. Meanwhile, business owners see a notice that shows the name an photo ID of the checked-in customer, in order to verify the security of the application, and protect against the possibility of stolen phones.

What kinds of advantages and disadvantages are associated with this system? How long before it will become commonplace?

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

Smartphone app designed to alert drivers of dangers on the road

Image courtesy of Carlos S. Pereyra

Researchers at Dartmouth have come out with a new app for smartphones that works to detect dangerous driving behavior, in an effort to make roads safer. An article on NewScientist featured the app, CarSafe, explaining how it uses dual-cameras to watch the actions of both the drivers on the road and the driver of the vehicle it is in.

After mounting it in the vehicle, computer-vision technology works to take real-time information and process it, with the ability to detect if a driver is becoming drowsy or distracted, as well as to see if the vehicle or other vehicles are swerving, crossing over the lanes, or coming too close to other cars.

If any of the above occur, an alarm that is both audible and visible goes off on the phone.

What makes this app particularly unique is the fact that smartphones are not capable of using both cameras at once. However, CarSafe is written so that the two cameras are constantly switching back and forth, analyzing the scenes at a rate of eight frames per second. This does cause a delay in real-time processing, but it’s the closest anything has come to this kind of dual-camera technology, thus far.

Learn more by watching the following video:

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


Punch in and out with facial recognition

Wirelesstimeclock, a well-known seller of various time clocks for use in the workplace, has already come out with such innovative clocks as ones requiring biometric fingerprints.

These clocks not only eliminate the old-fashioned standard of “punching in” and “punching out,” but are also a way to ensure that the proper employee is clocking in, and that workplace fraud isn’t occurring.

Adding to its line of forward-thinking time clock systems, Wirelesstimeclock unveiled another new clock last month. The company’s Facial Recognition Clock touts itself as the most inexpensive of its breed in the U.S., and allows employees to punch in and out either through facial recognition, RFID badge, or pin. Not only that, but employees have access to the system via smartphone, where they can view the log and ensure that the hours they worked were properly recorded.

Cat doors powered by Computer Vision

Computer vision, once a science that was restricted to programmers, is becoming increasingly more accessible for those not specializing in the field and Aaron Forster is proof of that.

Forster, an IT consultant, has recently taken matters into his own hands, working to create a computer vision-based program that runs on his smartphone and operates a cat door for his pet, Timothy.

It works to recognize when the cat is carrying something in his mouth – such as a rodent or bird he picked up outside – and deny him access to the house if he brings those things in. It also will ideally disallow other animals – be it different cats or non-feline creatures – from entering the house. This idea is nothing new; in 2004 a similar program was invented.

While programs like Microsoft’s Kinect have made it easier for people to harness the potential power of computer vision, there also exists a free open-source code, OpenCV, which is able to detect, recognize, and follow objects. Using a code someone wrote for recognizing humans, Forster is reworking it to train it to recognize his cat instead.

As promising as Forster’s story is, however, computer vision is still complicated for the average user, and has a long way to go before just anyone can use it in the manner it was designed for.

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?

Protecting against invasion of privacy

Facial recognition is a hot topic when it comes to identifying suspects and finding criminals, but these are only ways in which it can help aid society. However, many citizens have voiced concerns that along with facial recognition technology comes an unwanted invasion of privacy, according to an article recently posted on CNN.

This concern, of course, is not new, but the decreasing costs and increasing availability of facial recognition technology have made it much more relavant.

Those who are worried can rest a bit easy; the technology available is not yet intelligent enough to automatically match a face on the street with a person in a computer. Such a search would take hours to complete.

However, there are applications, such as a new iPhone one, which is able to use photos of a person – either real or from the Internet – and compile information such as gender and birthdate, to guess the person’s social security number. Watch the following video for more on this:

So how do people protect themselves from being photographed against their will? What happens if and/or when facial recognition technology becomes so commonplace that its use extends beyond law enforcement to include business owners and any given person on the street?

Facial recognition used to protect smartphones

It seems facial recognition technology is all the rage for the tech-savvy users among us. And now, with the release of FaceUnlock, it’s extending its use to cell phones. More specifically, facial recognition can now be used for unlocking smartphones.

Because security and privacy is of the utmost importance to smartphone users – who routinely store important data on their phones – FaceUnlock has introduced technology that scans the face of the user and unlocks the phone if there is a match. This prevents everyone from phone thieves to snoopy significant others from accessing a phone.

Sound a little bit too much like Mission: Impossible to you? Well it’s not, and it’s very possible. Check out the video below for a demonstration of the software, which is currently only available on the Android’s Galaxy Nexus, but will be coming soon to iPhones near you.