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Avoiding Facial Recognition of the Future 258

Posted by timothy
from the like-in-paul-theroux's-o-zone dept.
hypnosec writes "A New York-based designer has created a camouflage technique that makes it much harder for computer based facial recognition. Along with the growth of closed circuit television (CCTV) , this has become quite a concern for many around the world, especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life. Being recognized automatically by computer is something that hearkens back to 1984 or A Scanner Darkly. As we move further into the 21st century, this futuristic techno-horror fiction is seeming more and more accurate. Never fear though people, CV Dazzle has some styling and makeup ideas that will make you invisible to facial recognition cameras. Why the 'fabulous' name? It comes from World War I warship paint that used stark geometric patterning to help break up the obvious outline of the vessel. Apparently it all began as a thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. It addressed the problems with traditional techniques of hiding the face, like masks and sunglasses and looked into more socially and legally acceptable ways of styling that could prevent a computer from recognizing your face. Fans of Assassin's Creed might feel a bit at home with this, as it's all about hiding in plain sight."
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Avoiding Facial Recognition of the Future

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  • Don't forget IR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:36PM (#38589264) Homepage Journal

    Add IR opaque contact lenses or eyeglasses. Otherwise a camera sensitive to IR could still locate your eyes easily using the Ghost Hunters effect.

    I mean hey, if you're willing to paint your face like a zebra and wear a jellyfish wig, popping in a set of otherwise clear contacts should be nothing, right?

  • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:39PM (#38589310)

    It would seem anyone running around painted this way would attract more police attention than just wearing a slouch hat. Perhaps it might be easier to just get (make) an Infrared LED Hat [boingboing.net]. Or maybe, take control of your government and vote them out until they remove the cameras [bigbrotherwatch.org.uk].

    • Also the hairdos are a bit ridiculous. If more than a couple people do this, then wouldn't "the watchers" just flag anyone with preposterous hair for additional scrutiny?

      Perhaps the citizen answer is to make bulky glasses fashionable... glasses that have big flanges at the bridge.

      As for the IR Hat, is that the new tinfoil?

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        Not really, the LED hat actually has some effect for most security cameras currently in use.

        And it doesn't have to be just a hat, it could be built into headphones or any other accessory close enough to the face to obscure it with glare.

        Of course, anyone looking at the video feed will know that someone doesn't want to be identified due to the glare.

      • by sjames (1099)

        I'm pretty sure I saw some of those styles (the hair and makup) in the '80s. On the principle of everything old is new again, isn't it about time for that to come back around again?

      • by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @06:13PM (#38590352)

        Also the hairdos are a bit ridiculous. If more than a couple people do this, then wouldn't "the watchers" just flag anyone with preposterous hair for additional scrutiny?

        Hey you insensitive clod, I used to wear my hair that way in the 80s!

        -AI

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        No, because glasses with a big flange at the bridge are noticeable too, and authorities would just look for those.

        Instead, what we need is something like the old fake glasses with a fake nose attached. If the glasses have something that covers the bridge of the nose with something that still looks like a real part of your nose, but has different dimensions than your real nose, it'll throw off the recognition algorithms while still being totally innocuous looking, as long as the fake-nose part looks really

      • by Radtastic (671622)
        A baseball cap, sunglasses, and a dust or surgical mask would cover up the nose and cheekbones. Bonus: you won't even stand out that much in a crowd as more and more people are doing this for health reasons.
    • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:46PM (#38589404) Homepage Journal

      I agree, The best one I have seen so far was to hot glue IR Diodes to the brim of a baseball cap and wire them to a small battery pack inside the cap. All of the cameras are extremely sensitive to IR (So they can see at night) and it has the effect of whiting out your face to the camera but being unseen by anyone else.

      • You can already buy hats with LEDs in the brim from places like Sears: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-4-led-hat/p-03493353000P [sears.com]
        So a few bucks to change out the LEDs to IR LEDs and you are good to go.

      • All of the cameras are extremely sensitive to IR (So they can see at night).

        Er no - it's because CCDs are IR sensitive. Which is why IR blocking film has to be placed under the lens. And no, the IR range visible by CCDs doesn't enable them to "see at night" (unless you shine an IR source on the subject). Those CCDs can't "see" heat signatures either (anymore than these techniques actually work - try V4l2 controls) - not unless you stick 'em in an Esky connected to a massively insulated lens and flood the Esky with liquid Nitrogen.

        You can carry on with the fantasies now.

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Fake mustaches, wigs on short hair, for once Hollywood might actually be educational here in how they dress up their actors. The question is why bother? This needs to be addressed at the government level, as to why they feel they need to monitor their citizens (superiority complex???) and what the limitations are.

      • I agree. It will be far simpler to require a chip be implanted in your brain before you are permitted to vote.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Fake mustaches won't help, nor will wigs unless they obscure the face. Facial recognition works by measuring the distances between key points on the face, so facial hair doesn't affect it at all (unless you're like those guys who grew hair over their entire faces and ended up in a circus sideshow as ape-men).

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)

          Interesting, what about something like a skin mold then?

          Then again if it's anything like my alienware cam login, the technology is only moderately far along and a pain in the ass to use. It does work sometimes though under ideal conditions. I'm sure the feds prolly have something better.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            A skin mold might work if it makes your cheekbones look different, and definitely if it makes your nose look different (change the bridge, or the length of the nose). And anything that changes the distance between your eyes is sure to work, though that's obviously a little harder to fake.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      It would seem anyone running around painted this way would attract more police attention than just wearing a slouch hat

      Oh? Judging by the first picture in the series, I could probably find someone not unlike that in the downtown of many large cities -- or a mall.

      It isn't yet illegal to be eccentric compared to the rest of society.

      Hell, I can think of some people I've met at tattoo/piercing places who might fool facial recognition. By the time you've got some extra piercings/implants, it can change quite a

      • by icebike (68054) *

        It would seem anyone running around painted this way would attract more police attention than just wearing a slouch hat

        Oh? Judging by the first picture in the series, I could probably find someone not unlike that in the downtown of many large cities -- or a mall.

        It isn't yet illegal to be eccentric compared to the rest of society.

        Nobody said it was illegal.
        Just that it would attract police attention. Wasn't avoiding that, after all, what the story was about?

        Go ask the next person you see if they feel their mode of dress attracts more police attention than the average joe. Be prepared for an ear full, but once you wade thru that, you will they feel it does attract the attention of the average cop.

      • Hell, I can think of some people I've met at tattoo/piercing places who might fool facial recognition. By the time you've got some extra piercings/implants, it can change quite a bit -- and those people often are already wearing theatrical contacts.

        You haven't *really* thought that through have you? Like painting your car with pink polka dots so no one will recognise it...

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Hell, I can think of some people I've met at tattoo/piercing places who might fool facial recognition. By the time you've got some extra piercings/implants, it can change quite a bit -- and those people often are already wearing theatrical contacts.

        Nope. Put all the tattoos you want on, it won't fool facial recognition. They showed this in the article with crazy tribal facepaint.

        Piercings in your ears and lips aren't going to change anything either. However, if you put piercings in your cheeks to obscure

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:07PM (#38589678)

      Render CCTV pretty much 100% ineffective.

      Or maybe it was just ineffective anyway.

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        that's what pick-pockets wear all right, but that attracts cop attention too.
    • by sjames (1099)

      Clearly it's time to start holding Adam Ant fan conventions...

    • by ironjaw33 (1645357) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:32PM (#38589960)

      It would seem anyone running around painted this way would attract more police attention than just wearing a slouch hat.

      With more and more automation in law enforcement, it isn't about fooling the police anymore, it's about fooling machines. As of late, law enforcement is pushing hard for automated electronic solutions which replace the venerable eyeball. GPS trackers are replacing stakeouts, speed and traffic light cameras replace traffic police, and facial recognition may be reducing the number of beat cops. When it comes to the state of the art with data mining and machine learning, there are a ton of corner cases to choose from -- a sight that may draw significant attention to a human being might be quickly discarded by an artificial neural network. Nobody will even care to look at the wig you're wearing as everyone's heads are now buried in their phones.

      • The trick is to make if fashionable enough so that everyone is wearing one. Although the wealthy now have nearly all the money, everyone knows they are too cheap and don't want pay more taxes to hire enough cops. Sounds like a great decoy for burglars, robbers, and drug dealers. Just hire enough of the unemployed at minimum wage to keep the cops busy during the heist/deal. With the wealthy too cheap to pay taxes, there won't be enough cops to replay all the videos and question and monitor the thousands

    • If this starts to catch on, expect the Tea Party and GOP to ban Braveheart fan clubs.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Yes, and expect the Democrats to publicly complain about this, yet when a vote comes up, they'll vote with their GOP buddies, and say "we had to compromise".

    • My unibrow, third eye on the forehead, and Freddy Mercury mustache are all I need to go incognito without any attention. Also, I look like Lady Gaga. All of which makes me completely blend with the crowd, as long as the crowd is at a freak show or science fiction convention, or ComicCon.
    • Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

      I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes

  • by tatman (1076111) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:40PM (#38589332) Homepage
    And by that I do not mean cameras and facial recognition. I'm thinking about in games and books where the characters had strange hair and make up styles. Now, it's becoming plausible.
    • by shish (588640)

      Now, it's becoming plausible.

      It's always been plausible (Go look at a goth nightclub :P), but now we know the reason that everybody in the future does it.

    • And by that I do not mean cameras and facial recognition. I'm thinking about in games and books where the characters had strange hair and make up styles. Now, it's becoming plausible.

      That's not what plausible means.

      • And by that I do not mean cameras and facial recognition. I'm thinking about in games and books where the characters had strange hair and make up styles. Now, it's becoming plausible.

        That's not what plausible means.

        Time to update your dictionary to the 19th century???

        plausible (plôz-bl)
        adj.
        1. Seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible

        The writer was very correct in his usage. Maybe you
        haven't seen enough steampunk/cyberpunk movies?

        -AI

  • How would climber's sunglasses, which normally protect the nose and shield the eyes, work for this?
  • At last! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:47PM (#38589422)
    A practical application for my Warhammer 40K painting!
  • by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <zalanmeggyesi@CO ... m minus caffeine> on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:51PM (#38589470)

    V for Vendetta and Doktor Sleepless are pioneers of this. Doktor Sleepless's masks carry the added bonus of jamming all RFID tags in a limited area, letting the wearer act free.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Interesting idea- hundreds or thousands of people using Guy Fawks(?) masks while walking around. I'd love to see the law they would try to pass about that. They'd try the "can't conceal face thing", and then come back at them with "It's freaking winter and my face is freezing, so I want to wear a ski mask." Then it would get weird with them trying to target the masks specifically, or try to up set dates when you could wear cold-protecting face masks, etc.

      Not sure about the RFID thing, unless you're tryin

  • The pictures seem to be in tune with the younger set and would not be out of place at your local college campus; especially when there is a rave going on somewhere.

    Kids wearing face paint and outrageous hair styles are not going to be noticed other than with the usual disapproving glances from the geezers they pass along the way...
    • The pictures seem to be in tune with the younger set and would not be out of place at your local college campus; especially when there is a rave going on somewhere. Kids wearing face paint and outrageous hair styles are not going to be noticed other than with the usual disapproving glances from the geezers they pass along the way...

      What - like long hair, floppy hats and beards worked?

      I don't think you quite understand the full picture [turner.com]

  • Yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:56PM (#38589536)

    It's all well and good until masking your identity becomes the same thing as covering up your license plate. illegal

  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:57PM (#38589556)

    The first step would be to stop making this easier for the government by posting and correctly tagging all those Facebook and flicker, etc, photos.

    In fact, if you really want to start messing with this, get photo manipulation software, and on an entire sequence of photos stretch the nose a little, reduce the space between the nose and mouth, lengthen the chin, change the eyes a little, essentially changing all the standard measurements useful for visual identification, then "poison the well" by continuously posting these slightly altered shots up on these tracking sites and tag them appropriately. I'd personally even round robin tag them with friends names, or random ones if you don't already have a history to overcome, just to confuse the matter even more. (What, you didn't think that those pictures and info weren't available to the government, did you? They're the biggest, and free!, ID DB ever constructed)

    All the other stuff, wrap around mirrored glasses that are IR/UV opaque etc will only assist in keeping them from making an easy match.

    • Let me know when you're able to train your technophobe mom on using Photoshop to lengthen people's noses and stretching their chins, and when you're able to convince your sexting teenage cousin that it's not kosher throwing pictures of everyone up everywhere.

      While I don't necessarily disagree with you, practically speaking, it's not going to happen. That genie is already out of its bottle. We need to start from the fundamental assumption that the data is out there and will be collected, and figure out fro

      • by Gr8Apes (679165)

        Let me know when you're able to train your technophobe mom on using Photoshop to lengthen people's noses and stretching their chins, and when you're able to convince your sexting teenage cousin that it's not kosher throwing pictures of everyone up everywhere.

        Funny enough, iOS users have this little app called "Fat Booth" [apple.com] which will handle both issues above as it is exceptionally easy to use and "fun", apparently. I'm sure there's an equivalent for Android out there as well. No computers even needed.

        For the teenagers, the more off pictures, the better. If we could convince them at the same time to tag them with funny names, it'd resolve itself quickly.

        While I don't necessarily disagree with you, practically speaking, it's not going to happen. That genie is already out of its bottle. We need to start from the fundamental assumption that the data is out there and will be collected, and figure out from that what we need to do.

        Just a few users can poison the well pretty handily, at least for a targeted set of subjects. Once the integrity

      • We need to start from the fundamental assumption that the data is out there and will be collected, and figure out from that what we need to do.

        With those constraints, there's only one thing we can do. That's a technique called poisoning the well. It's a repurposing of spamming technology for Good(TM). The idea is to add sufficient contradictory information all over the place that the real information, which is also out there, cannot be separated from it, and thereby becomes too unreliable to be used.

    • by biodata (1981610)
      It should be pretty easy to knock up a website that can take in a pic, find the face, modify it subtly in a randomise way, and give the person their modified pic back. Maybe there could even be a Facebook app that would do it.
  • It's the eighties all over again.
  • especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life.

    The number of cameras in Britain is based on an extrapolation from a single street in London. It's not a particularly reliable figure.

    Most of these cameras are privately owned. Do you really believe there's something about Britain that makes private businesses substantially more likely to employ CCTV than in other countries?
    • by migla (1099771)

      Most of these cameras are privately owned. Do you really believe there's something about Britain that makes private businesses substantially more likely to employ CCTV than in other countries?

      The law, maybe? I don't think you can put up CCTV cameras willy nilly in some other countries even if you have a shop or pub or something.

    • by shish (588640)
      I don't know what the figure being talked about is, but one time while waiting for a friend in London, I looked up, and found ~15 CCTV cameras in line of sight; even if that was an anomalously high area, it still seems a bit much...
    • "Do you really believe there's something about Britain that makes private businesses substantially more likely to employ CCTV than in other countries?"

      Don't shatter my reality. All this time I just thought the Brits were just so jealous about not having their own Hollywood that they simply just wanted to be on big screen too.

      Just think of all those folks who simply were born to mistakenly look like someone else, such a cruel fate.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:16PM (#38589766)
    They just wear burkas.
  • I was kind of hoping this would be something that would make computer recognition fail while still being pretty subtle to human eyes. I'm not sure of the methods, but there are plenty of factors that we could make use of. For example, CCTV tend to be higher up than human height, and take 2D images. So, perhaps a technique may involve masking shadows from a certain set of angles in a subtle way that avoids detecting a face shape while not being too noticeable by normal people.
    • I was kind of hoping this would be something that would make computer recognition fail while still being pretty subtle to human eyes. I'm not sure of the methods, but there are plenty of factors that we could make use of. For example, CCTV tend to be higher up than human height, and take 2D images. So, perhaps a technique may involve masking shadows from a certain set of angles in a subtle way that avoids detecting a face shape while not being too noticeable by normal people.

      A hat :)

  • I read about his work a couple of years ago. He has come up with a good way to prevent a facial recognition algorithm getting "true positives", but I think to truly mess with The Man, how about my idea for a textile pattern to also generate lots of spurious "false positives": http://shacklemore.blogspot.com/2010/04/facial-recognition-camoflage.html [blogspot.com] Hopefully, if enough people wore this fabric, any real-time facial recognition algorithm would start getting CPU bound, and limited by the speed of running hund
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:28PM (#38589906) Homepage

    It's like wiggling your ears, only a bit harder. Come on, practice! You can do it!

    You might want to work on shortening and lengthening your nose, too.

    • I think Michelle Bachmann has this down pat, which is maybe why she was appointed to the Intelligence Committee.

  • by Brooklynoid (656617) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:55PM (#38590178)
    This look would go nicely with my tinfoil hat.
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @06:02PM (#38590258)
    Eye patch. Wear it on a different side depending on the day of the week.
    • I prefer those Groucho Marx Nose and Glasses costumes, since you can get them on discount come Halloween. This should be especially with those libertarians who can't quite break away from the GOP, when they sing "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It". That's important since they don't cover your mouth, so you can get the pitch right.

  • by siphonophore (158996) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @06:09PM (#38590324)

    When someone cross-references a 200GB torrent of amateur porn photos with the facebook database

  • by spaceman375 (780812) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @06:15PM (#38590368)
    I've been looking forward to decent facial recognition for decades. Especially in "cash registers." No more PINs, signatures, passwords to make up and then remember, no card swiping, bumping, etc. Heck; no cards at all in my wallet for loss or picking. Despite following "The Dead" back in the day, no, you can't steal my face. Just smile at the camera and go. Want to log in? My desktop should just follow me around wherever the nearest screen is. No more carrying a keychain (or barcode chain). My car should just recognise me and not be willing to start for anyone else without checking with me first. Same thing with the locks on my house. Tech like this is a good thing. How it gets used should be controlled and applied ethically, not just shot down with a luddite approach in the name of privacy. Go back to your shrill call to "Think of the children."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pclminion (145572)

      My car should just recognise me and not be willing to start for anyone else without checking with me first.

      You're at a remote campsite, out of cell range. You've been drinking. You trip over something and fall in the fire pit, burning your face beyond recognition. Your girlfriend tries to take you to the hospital, but the car doesn't start when she turns the key. You die of shock. Your girlfriend dies from exposure 12 days later.

  • Waiting for things like this to become integrated into your local gang culture like black hoodies and sunglasses in 5, 4, 3....

  • It needs to be removable if you're going to visit a place (like banks or government offices in the US) where covering your face is illegal. Also: Making your face less identifiable as a face has got to have some social implications. Are people going to be comfortable talking to you?
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @06:27PM (#38590500)

    The disease is the out of control kleptocracy--corporations and the 1% dismantling everything good about our society. Learning different techniques to fool facial recognition software, etc, etc will only ever be used be a few while most will acquiesce. In short, it will make no difference to the trajectory of the path we're on.

    The only, definitive way to put an end to all this crap is to tear down this failed system and start on America 2.0. America 1.0 got a lot of things right, and those things should be kept. But we also got some things wrong, and other things have developed that the original designers couldn't have foreseen. So let's wrest control back from the corrupt in that good old American way, non-violently if possible, by force of arms if necessary.

    But sitting around, wasting time on weasel tactics like these is completely counter-productive. Let's act preemptively and use technology to destabilize the 1%, put them to flight, and make sure the crap they've been up to never happens again.

  • The Ugly T-Shirt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rkasper (114894) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @07:00PM (#38590800) Homepage

    Sounds like the Ugly T-Shirt from William Gibson's _Zero History_.

  • Why are we linking to another site that links to the site of interest while adding nothing new? We could get all of this from the originating site; it's not like it would increase the number of people who RTFA.

  • Use a sticking-plaster instead of makeup. Removable and faster than drawing patterns.

    Imagine some fancy sticking-plaster on the face: looks like one have been slightly wounded and couldn't find the ordinary color on the shelf.

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