back to article Reverse-engineering artist busts face detection tech

Concerned about the proliferation of face recognition systems in public places, a grad student in New York is developing privacy-enhancing hacks designed to thwart the futuristic surveillance technology. Using off-the-shelf makeup and accessories such as glasses, veils, and artificial hair, Adam Harvey's master's thesis …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cool

    Nice idea.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The face of things to come.

    It's all nice and well for industry buffs to ``predict'' face recognition ``will be everywhere'', just like other (or maybe not) industry buffs ``predicted'' RFID would be everywhere, then proceeded to scam their way into passports everywhere by way of ICAO and a good solid terrorist scare, doing clear but often overlooked damage to privacy everywhere. It's still going to be a problem and another reminder we'll need to think about what we want tracked and where we would like to stay uncounted. Not-knowing is becoming harder every day, but will prove necessairy. Thus we will have to conciously choose. And this requires us the people to speak up.

    This sort of thing is why pious jews and muslims both superstitiously prefer to leave things, camels, people uncounted.

    On the gripping hand, good job to the OpenCV people to provide us with an open source implementation that could then be used for Adam Harvey's work, for which kudos also.

  3. Vince Lewis 1
    Joke

    Fighting the Future of Facial Recogition

    By the look of the pictures it manages this by putting the individual into a space-timer bubble, partly taking them out of this time frame and placing them into the 1980's. The 80's sphere of influence negates CCTV since the Technology was not widely installed at that time.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Reference

      Is this a reference (Gripping hand) to "The Moat around Murcheson's Eye", aka "The Gripping Hand" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

      If so, well done that man! Excelent book!

  4. Dances With Sheep
    Go

    Ridicule is nothing to be scared of !

    Woohoo !

    Time to dig out the Adam Ant makeup and dance the 'prince charming' again.

    Who's in with me ?

    1. moonface
      Coat

      Sure Know Something!

      I won't believe this system works until it's been fully tested on Gene Simmons.

  5. Dr Dan H.
    Pirate

    Using the technology against its self

    Most CCTV cameras are highly sensitive to infrared light, which is helpful since you can illuminate scenes covertly with infrared lamps. However, it shouldn't be difficult to develop face paints which look like normal skintones to us, but which reflect or absorb strongly in the near-infrared. It is also quite possible to put infrared LEDs onto spectacles, which emit strongly enough to interfere with the face-recognition systems..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As with the spray paint on number plates...

      ....That stops you having your number captured on camera. That will only be effective if the cameras are unmanned (in the case of the plates you are fucked as soon as a cop car with a camera sees you as it wont see your plate). It doesn't take a genious to work out that someone who can't be identified should be checked out by a real person on the ground. It also wouldn't be difficult for the camera to alert an operator to a suspicious reading.

      Basing this 'theory' on open source software is all well and good but lets face it, in the real world, the most secure and advanced technology is not given out for free.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Micky 1

        How's that security-by-obscurity working for you? Only at the upper-ends of military tech are the encryption system themselves secret. And even there the main protection is not letting the certificates/pass-keys/whatever fall into the wrong hands.

        The strongest securith (SSH, HTTPS, TrueCrypt etc) is often quite free and open. This is what makes it secure in the first place. Sure you can see how it hashes its bits and what have you - does you sod all good when you don't have the keys.

        Most advances in this area come from sponsored academic research and, with few exceptions, academics publish their research publiclly (they kinda have to). So even if you can't get access to "Code Cypher X", the theory on how it will work is out there. And if "Code Cypher X" has a flaw, a smart person can still figure out how to break it. Just look at how long HDTV security lasted, to pick one example.

        I put it to you that, barring extreme cases in military-style applications, the most secure systems run on open code. With keys held safely.

    2. Ru
      Boffin

      Re: Using the technology against its self

      Small, bright point sources of light do a lousy job of 'jamming' CCTVs and the like. It'll work if you strap a car headlight to your hat, perhaps... nothing else is going to be really powerful enough to dazzle the camera.

      During daylight hours, an IR-cut filter applied to the camera would defeat any sort of IR-camo-makeup attempt, though perhaps it might work against night-vision type cameras (though I doubt it very much).

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        @Ru

        "Small, bright point sources of light do a lousy job of 'jamming' CCTVs and the like. It'll work if you strap a car headlight to your hat, perhaps... nothing else is going to be really powerful enough to dazzle the camera."

        I don't think he's talking about dazzling the camera -- rather he's suggesting that the pattern matching may rely on patches of light and dark not in the visible spectrum, so use of IR masking and/or emission would change the image that the computer sees into "not a face" without affecting the image a man looking you in the eye would see.

    3. dr2chase

      I was about to say...

      if true, the IR-blocking glasses are "dark", then realized that they are merely sensitive to IR, along with everything else. I don't think this is likely to work; if they see well in other bands, they merely install the same IR coating that I get on my glasses on their lens.

    4. Paul_Murphy

      LED around the face

      already been done:

      http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-infrared-mask-hide-face-from-cameras-201280/

      ttfn

    5. ravenviz Silver badge
      Unhappy

      face paint

      They'll just make it an offence to wear detection avoiding face paint, like it's illegal to have a car number plate that reflects the GATSO flash.

  6. Ralph B
    Terminator

    Adam Ant or Itt Addams?

    She could've tried the Adams Family Cousin Itt look.

  7. David Kelly 2

    Fair Game for Strip Search

    Anyone wearing makeup as shown is clearly acting guilty and is fair game to be taken aside for special searches.

    1. Colin_L

      re: fair game

      Most likely you are correct, that is what the authorities will think and that is what most normal people will believe as well.

      Personally, I'm amazed that a ban on headgear and sunglasses is not already in place for all banks and places of commerce. YES, it would be inconvienent for some customers.

      However, it's truly maddening how many times security cameras are foiled by con artists, forgers and the like by simply wearing a ballcap and looking down during the transaction. Even if you catch the person, the jury rightly throws out the positive ID because you can't see their face clearly.

      Or maybe there's just a raft of check fraud and ID theft in the US...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Head gear ban

        This is in place (at least the in the UK). Bank clerks will get uppity if you don't remove items obscuring the face (e.g. big hats, crash helmets). I am not sure what the rules are around face-obscuring head gear worn for cultural or religious reasons.

        IMHO the should be removed as well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: fair game

        What's a check?

        Ah, that's the thing the banks are phasing out in the UK because nobody uses them. Yes, check fraud is probably more of a problem in the US than the UK. :|

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    So to defeat Face Recognition

    All you have to do is make yourself up Like Adam Ant or wear a balaclava / Hijab?

    Excellent

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Double standards

      Balaklava will get you the armed response unit from the local police station

      A full Burka (not even a hijab) which obscures all of you will get you an appreciation for being a valued customer with religious rights.

      WTF... I really wish they allowed Sikhs to carry their f*** pocket knifes. That would have given everyone the right to declare themselves a follower of Odin, put on a chainmail and openly carry a battle axe. In the name of Valhalla, that would have done wonders to make the tube and commuter trains a more polite environment.

  9. DJV Silver badge
    Happy

    I wonder how...

    ... Dean and Nigel would do:

    www.deanandnigel.co.uk

  10. Secretgeek
    Big Brother

    Yeahhh...nice idea.

    One tiny problem that I can see with this.

    Given that the point is to hide your identity from the Man you'll proabably attract a signiificant amount of attention walking round in that get up.

    Not really conducive to surreptious operation.

    That is until we all start wearing it.

    And I can just picture a 50 year old builder in face paint. Nothing to do with the article, I just can.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Back to the 80s!

    A lot of those looks would make you appear like Steve Strange circa '82! ( Showing my age now! )

    Given face number 2 ( the Apache warpaint look! ), could we all look like Adam Ant, Prince Charming era. Brings back memories of being a daft impressionable 12 year old, raiding his mum's make-up box to try to look like one the Ants!

    Before I make an even bigger plank of myself, I'll get me....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Superbowl...

    Isn´t Superbowl where it is most likely to find men with their faces painted, usually in the colors of the team they support?

    That can throw off a facial ID software, but it would be easy to a guard reply to "a thug using blue-white checkers in his face mugged me" situation. (any similarity is coincidental)

    William Wallace and Conan wouldn´t be recognized either. Oh wait, nobody will notice a 7-ft tall, 3-ft wide Barbarian or a Scotchsman wearing kilt, wielding a Broadsword or such.

  13. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Suspect techno-scam

    Think about a CCTV camera, even an HD version, scanning a crowd entering a stadium. With the wide field of view to cover the entire entrance, each face will only have a limited number of pixels. And in practice, the actual usable resolution will be worse than that. And they claim to measure various distances of features on the face. To what resolution? How many real (intelligence-bearing) bit combinations will they actually end up with? I smell techno-scam.

    Now if the subjects would (one-by-one) helpfully face the camera (filling the frame with their face), then the numbers start to make sense. But even given that, the technology is being oversold, way beyond what makes any sense.

  14. Robin

    So to avoid detection...

    I simply have to walk around looking like a different member of Kiss every day?

    1. Jimbo 6

      <title>

      *Last time I went to a sports stadium* you had to access through a narrow turnstile, individually, rather than running through a motorway-width gap with hundreds of others. So not very difficult to have an x-megapixel camera take a pic of me as an individual from very short range.

    2. Oninoshiko
      Happy

      yes,

      you even have to be a kitty.

      =^_^=

  15. Mad Jack
    Happy

    Finally we know

    .. what Alistair Darling's eyebrows are for ;^)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah baby..

    I love it, an excuse to draw Bladerunner replicants whilst at college...

    Paris, if she's not a pleasure replicant.....

  17. ShaggyDoggy

    I always knew ...

    ... that my "Aladdin Sane" makeup kit would be useful one day

  18. Natalie Gritpants

    David Bowie - ahead of his time

    Aladdin Sane

    nuf said.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clever

    We're almost in the future!

    Also I like the way he slipped Yotsuba in there

  20. LinkOfHyrule
    Joke

    total enclosure latex body suits

    Rather than everyone who is concerned about their privacy learning how to become a high class fashion grade make-up artist, how about we all just go about our daily business wearing full total enclosure latex body suits with full face masks to boot? Anyone else up for this or is this just me?

  21. hplasm Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Next on the banning list:

    Facepainting for the over 10s.

  22. A J Stiles
    Boffin

    Interesting

    From the point of view of strictly abstract mathematics, face recognition isn't much different from decompilation. (Think of machine instructions as vertices, and the shapes to which those vertices belong as loops and functions.)

    uncc is coming; and it is going to change the world.

  23. Paul Hates Handles

    Hasn't this been done before?

    When they first started installing the mega-expensive facial recognition systems in US airports didn't they establish that they don't really work very well to start with? Change your hat, grow a beard, don't sleep for a day or two and boom! Everyone thinks you're Lady Gaga.

  24. Dan 10
    Thumb Up

    Interesting stuff...

    There was a short write-up in Wired a few months back, about an artist who embedded little IR lights into a hat, so that on IR CCTV, his head is just a white glow. I liked the idea, but it's not like he didn't stand out on the footage...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    eh...

    "Harvey's research involves the reverse engineering of OpenCV"

    Hardly seems like reverse engineering if you're taking apart documented open source software.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Learning-OpenCV-Computer-Vision-Library/dp/0596516134/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271925211&sr=8-1

    Well not as challenging anyway...

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "Heading for the point where we need to think..."

    I think we're a bit past that.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Special offer from your local face-painter

    Alladin Sane - Cool look and avoids Big Brother

  28. Daf L

    Reverse engineering?

    «As a starting point, Harvey's research involves the reverse engineering of OpenCV, which its creators describe as an open-source "library of programming functions for real-time computer vision." From that work, he developed an understanding of the algorithm used to tell if an image captured by a camera is, say, a car, a building or a human face.»

    Wow, the guy's a genius! He reverse engineered an open-source program!

  29. Luke Watson
    FAIL

    Seriously?

    errrr. yeah, cover your face. thats one way to stay hidden...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Calendar

    If you want to read some comments about this elsewhere, Bruce Schneier had a mini blog post about this a few weeks ago:

    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/04/makeup_to_fool.html

    (not saying it has taken El Reg 10 days to catch up on the Brucie at all...... not at all.......)

    1. Ammaross Danan
      FAIL

      "Reverse Engineering"

      "to study or analyze (a device, as a microchip for computers) in order to learn details of design, construction, and operation, perhaps to produce a copy or an improved version."

      I think you (and a few others) have true "Reverse Engineering" confused with the more ill-intended aspect of it. Reverse Engineering is broader than decompiling a program. Analysing facial recognition algorithms with the intent on defeating them fully qualifies to be branded as "reverse engineering."

  31. Code Monkey

    Reverse engineering an open source library?

    Why didn't he just read the source

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Hmmmm

    So mentioning that a pair of dark sunglasses could do it just as well justifies his "research" and theses does it?

    No mention of the hoody's favourite of course which not only foils computerised systems, but also manual ones...

    Honestly, where can I get a grant for such research? I have a sneaking suspicion that beer makes your legs go wobbly.

    (Can we have an icon for the department of the bleedin' obvious?)

  33. David Adams
    Welcome

    May I be the first...

    ...to welcome our undetectable new "New Romantic" overlords etc.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back to the eighties

    Bring back New Romanticism

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      Coffee/keyboard

      aagghh! Thanks for making me ruin my keyboard!

      That is the funniest things i've read all week!

      Someone quick do a graphic novel about New romantics taking over the earth and then make it into a Hollywood blockbuster - it will be like Watchmen but with more Roland Synthesizers.

  35. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    What about this traditional design?

    http://www.biblepicturegallery.com/pictures/Adults/Thief%20with%20mask%20swag%20bag%20and%20striped%20tee-shirt%20ca.htm

    http://www.magicalrabbit.net/servlet/the-169/Burgla-the-Masked-Bandit/Detail

    Either way, you'll stand out to human observers, in most places. Mardi Gras and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are exceptions.

    You said they did a sports crowd facial recognition exercise in 2001? Has the computer finished calculating the results yet? Also the printer ink may be fossilised by now...

  36. Paul_Murphy

    Kiss and make-up

    So lets all look like refugees from Kiss shall we?

    Actually it's quite interesting, 2000AD (the comic) was predicting all sorts of things, and I'm sure that something like this form of makeup would have been in it, maybe more for the looking strange than defeating face recognition, but maybe we are going to see this sort of thing soon - after all if you are looking suspicious with a hoody up, the next best thing would be to lose the hoody and look less suspicious, but still be unrecognizable.

    If makeup becomes more mainstream, at least the future won't look boring.

    ttfn

  37. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Nixon's face, Kjartan's passport

    Kjartan Slettemark, a Norwegian artist, travelled Europe in the 1970s using a picture of Nixon's face with his own beard superimposed on it as his passport photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43686206@N00/426134446/in/set-72157600008019734/

    (Paris cos her beard would be very appropriate for Nixon's face...)

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      beard or not beard?

      «Paris cos her beard would be very appropriate for Nixon's face...»

      Not to mention that he would look silly with a small patch of hair on the tip of the nose.

  38. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
    Coat

    So all that time...

    ... American football players have just been trying to avoid face-recognition tech.

    Explains a lot really. It wasn't me ref, look at the face-recog logs!

  39. Mike Moyle Silver badge
    Boffin

    FWIW...

    ...I don't think that the researcher is saying that you need to do big swathes of black warpaint to fool the cameras -- just enough of make-ups slightly lighter than your normal skin tone on normally shadowed areas and slightly darker on normally highlighted ones to make it hard for the FR software to know where those marker points that it looks for begin and end. If it can't find those, or "sees" them in places where they, physically, aren't, then it won't match the points on, say, your mug shot so that match won't be made.

    Think about all of those tabloid photos of celebs walking around without their make-up on and how different their faces look when they're not making their cheekbones more proinent and their eyes larger/farther apart/closer together.

    Now add in the fact that the patterns shown in the article tend to make the lighter and darker areas that the system looks for less symmetrical than normal and (if the make-up is skillfully-enough applied) you might have a disguise that won't match a previously made FR image AND won't be outré enough to attract the attention of a human watcher. The big black areas in the drawings are simply showing the sorts of asymmetric shapes that can confuse the system and are the equivalent of dyeing specimens on a microscope slide to make them more visible.

    Sorry, but I'm afraid that the glam make-up can go back onto the top shelf of the closet.

    (Actually, I'm not sorry... [MartinMull] "Remember the '80s? Whoah...! That shit ALMOST came back again...!" {/martinMull}

    1. Trevor 10

      Quick Scan Algorithm

      "make it hard for the FR software to know where those marker points that it looks for begin and end."

      I don't think thats what he is saying. Or at least thats not what The Reg's article is saying.

      They were saying that the system is divided up, there is a quick algorithm which scans a complete scene and says these pixels here look generally like a face or a car or something, those face shaped pixels are then passed to proper Face Recognition Software (i.e. recognise individual faces compared to a reference image).

      The article is saying if your face doesn't look enough like a face to be picked up by the fast algorithm then it's never even passed to the FR algorithm.

      So this might work to hide in a crowd where computers are deciding what to scan, but in an enviroment where the image is passed directly to the FR algorithm in higher resolution/low rate of scan environments such as airport security gates where the video is known be a human face I'm not so sure it would work, at least without error codes being flashed up on the operators terminal giving the operator a reason to look at you more closely.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Nazis?

    Wasn't it also IBM that worked with the Nazis for keeping track of prisoners?

  41. PaulH

    Not OMD

    It's basically dazzle camouflage (e.g. the dazzle ships that inspired the OMD album).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzle_camouflage

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      To be fair...

      ...they were also selling to and consulting for the Allies and the management of Nazi focussed IBM [I guess you're thinking of Hollerith machines] shifted from New York to Switzerland in the Autumn of 1941.

      I suppose they regret it now, though I wonder who's tech is used to track and process political detainees in China etc today....

  42. david wilson

    But is it *art*?

    For someone who (like almost everyone) isn't of interest to the government, and isn't planning a crime, this is probably a waste of time.

    For anyone (like the great mass of people) carrying a mobile phone, this is probably a waste of time.

    That said, I guess one of the defining characteristics of art is that whatever value it has doesn't lie in actually being useful.

  43. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Is this confusing face identification and face recognition?

    I.e. one says "That's a face, just there" - as used in many camera to sort out the focussing - and the others says "This face is HIS face"?

    OK, you have to find the face to run recognition on it - but given that faces tend to be found on top of bodies, it's not going to be that had for a suitable algorithm to work out where your head should be. French nobility and a few wives of Henry VIII excepted.

    1. MD Rackham

      First you have to find the face

      Before you can compare a face against your bad guy database you have to isolate the face from the video stream you're capturing. That seems to be what he's attempting to fool.

      But somehow I don't think Osama is going to adopt this kind of "Liquid Sky" makeup just to be able to go to the Super Bowl.

  44. Chris Pollard
    Pirate

    Hmm

    Looks suspiciously like the facial recognition software can't recognise burglars and pirates.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    face recognition software does not work

    All real world tests have shown that so far. So developing something to thwart a non-existent scheme is the ultimate in intellectual masturbation.

    1. rhvarona

      face recognition software does not work...YET

      Computing power per dollar doubles every 2 to 3 years. How long do you think face recognition will continue to be ineffective? I give it 5 years (4x as much computing power per dollar) before all government buildings have full time facial scanning, another 5 before big companies and highway toll cameras have it, another 5 before mom and pop stores have it.

      That is part of the reason I am very much against banning the wearing of muslim veils, not because I am muslim or religious, but because in the near future covering your face with some sort of veil or screen may be the only way to avoid continuous uninterrupted tracking from the moment you leave your house to the time you come back. If we make covering your face illegal we will have no options.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      another data point

      to show that indeed the face recognition software does not work. The masturbation is in spending billions developing the software that does not work. Proving it can be easily thwarted (and hence pointless) is trying to save money, not an exercise in futility. Conversely, when completely innocent you are dragged into the anti-terrorism kangaroo court having been falsely identified as a TERRORIST, you can, if given the opportunity to open your mouth in the first place, produce these studies to show that "Your honour, the software, it lies!"

  46. Mr Jolly
    Troll

    Hardcore facial what?

    I was going to say how I'd rather go out not looking like a complete tit than and be recognised.

    Then I realised I already do look like on so haven't got anything to lose.

  47. Jason Terando
    Go

    Conan the Barbarian

    Now I know the point of the makeup when they invaded Thulsa Doom's fortress.

  48. GaryB_

    "reverse engineering" ... it's open source

    Um, as the creator of OpenCV, I thought this was pretty damn funny. By the way, OpenCV is ... open, so you can just look inside, no need to reverse anything.

    The face detector there is a bit dated -- it works fairly well, but we are thinking of vastly improving it. Often it is used for "friendly access control". For example, on our new robot, we are thinking of not allowing the operator of our new telepresence robot to see video from the robot unless the operator's face is also being transmitted to the robot.

    If you want to really challenge the state of the art in face detection, you probably have to go against Omron corporation http://www.omron.com/r_d/technavi/vision/okao/detection.html

    Made my day.

  49. David A

    Or false positive?

    First I thought it was about making yourself look like a known villain. You know, to overload the system, if it catches on. Why reverse engineer the technology then? Obviously, so you can design a make-up, that deceives the machine, but still looks more or less like yourself to the human eye.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reverse-engineering?

    Was the open-source library written in obfuscated C perhaps?

  51. Richard Sloan
    Big Brother

    None of us are as stupid as all of us...

    Does the technology recognise people with EFG masks?

  52. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    FAIL

    @Jimbo 6

    Jimbo 6: "Last time I went to a sports stadium you had to access through a narrow turnstile..."

    No, you had to pass through one of many dozens (perhaps a hundred) narrow turnstiles. This massive IT multiplier moves the decimal point about two positions to the right and turns the whole thing into a financial fiasco with zero upside.

    And the facial recognition techno-scam artists have made fraudulent claims about "scanning the crowd..." [at the Superbowl] "...to look for terrorists". And the people with the applicable anti-terror budget are so massively tech-illiterate that they can't even perform the rough order-of-magnitude math in their head to notice that it's mathematically impossible.

    Marketing of purported automatic facial-recognition schemes are a bit like Fermat's Last Theorum. By the time they actually solve it (maybe 15 or 20 years from now), it'll reveal just how difficult a problem it really was. Thus proving that the early-2000-era claims were bogus.

    Geesh, the "Hey it's a face (I think)" systems barely work.

    1. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
      FAIL

      Who fails now?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiles%27_proof_of_Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem

  53. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    @rhvarona

    Excellent point. I hadn't thought of that.

  54. Juan Inamillion
    Joke

    @Chris Pollard

    "Looks suspiciously like the facial recognition software can't recognise burglars and pirates."

    HAHAHA! LMBO. Well spotted!

  55. Cam 2
    Black Helicopters

    to all those who say the face recognition doesn't work...

    have you not tried the latest version of Picasa? It's frighteningly good at spotting faces in your pictures, and given a set of known faces it is also pretty good at identifying them in new photos.

    1. Tjalf Boris Prößdorf
      Big Brother

      Not to speak of iPhoto ...

      that stuff is working fairly well even on a layman's 'puter, and all you need to do is to send someone to take care of those brazilian electricians once you have your false positives.

  56. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    We need a different type of make-up

    OK, we have the technique - now it is time to find make-up that doesn't show in daylight, but which will trigger the much higher IR sensitivity of a camera CCD.

    (and you can try using it on your car license plates as well).

    Anyone? Hello?

  57. Dave Bell

    Confused

    It seems pretty easy to spot a face in a picture, which is what this scheme may defeat,

    So why are people wittering so much about identifying faces, which is reckoned to be hard?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Why So Serious?

    ....Puts down his copy of Neuromancer for a moment to ponder what other ideas of William Gibsons will also come to be reality.

  59. The elephant in the room
    Happy

    The Laughing Man

    I hope the next stage of this research is to come up with a countermeasure that superimposes a logo of your choice over your face in the manner of The Laughing Man in Ghost in The Machine: Stand Alone Complex.

  60. John F***ing Stepp

    Just wear a miner's lantern.

    Of course they won't let you in a Pub; there is always a downside.

  61. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    FAIL

    @Ed Blackshaw

    Moi?

    My point was apparently insufficiently clear. For this I apologize and offer this more-verbose version:

    Wiles proof of Fermat's Theorem is so exceedingly complicated and modern that there's little wonder that Mr. Fermat's book margin was "too small" to contain his proof. In other words, the proof by Wiles reveals that Mr. Fermat was either deluded, or joking.

    Similarly, by the time facial recognition (of the general real-time arbitrary terrorist-spotting variety), *actually* works - years hence - it'll become obvious in hind-sight that the present-day claims must have been pure rubbish.

    Clear?

  62. Black Betty

    Facial recognition to pull bad guys out of a crowd...

    ...is, for the moment at least, rubbish. A way to extract cash from wannabe Big Brothers.

    But for one of its originally intended purposes its not too shabby at all.

    Take single piccy of unknown miscreant from security footage. Compare said piccy to huge database of known miscreants (or even of liscence photos) and extract small subset of close matches. Hand off to a real person to make a final comparison.

    If /when the technology ever advanced to the point where it can name/label every individual in a crowd, defeating it would still be as simple as injecting an irritant such as bee venom into the eyelids/lips/nose to create swelling

  63. Japhy Ryder

    anybody who thinks

    facial recognition s/w doesn't work should take a look at Picasa

  64. takuhii
    Thumb Up

    Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hair-do

    Looks like a Ziggy Stardust convention is in town!!

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