Anti-Surveillance Clothing Blocks Security Cameras’ Facial-Recognition Software

New anti-surveillance clothing has been developed, allowing wearers to prevent security cameras which use facial recognition technology from recognizing them. The clothing uses complex colored patterns of digitalized faces, and parts of faces, to overload and trick facial recognition software.

The patterned design of the clothing overwhelm and confuse facial recognition systems by presenting them with too many faces to read simultaneously.

Mashable reports that the clothing was produced as part of the Hyperface project, which prints patterns of eyes, noses, and mouths onto clothing and textiles.

Computer algorithms on which facial recognition technology relies recognize these complex patterns printed on the cloths as a face, and try to match the “face” to a real face in the database. The algorithms find themselves having to deal with so many “faces” at once, that they do not know which of the faces is the real one.

Adam Harvey, a Berlin-based artist and technologist, is behind the Hyperface project. He was also behind an earlier anti-surveillance, the CVDazzle, which also aimed to disrupt facial recognition software.

The earlier project developed a dazzling florescent makeup and hairstyling which disrupted surveillance software.

“As I’ve looked at in an earlier project, you can change the way you appear, but, in camouflage you can think of the figure and the ground relationship,” Harvey said at the recent Chaos Communications Congress (CCC) hacking conference in Hamburg.

“There’s also an opportunity to modify the ‘ground’, the things that appear next to you, around you, and that can also modify the computer vision confidence score.”

The complex patterns Harvey created may be worn directly, or used to flood an area to confuse security cameras.

“It can be used to modify the environment around you, whether it’s someone next to you, whether you’re wearing it, maybe around your head or in a new way,” Harvey said.

In his CCC talk, Harvey presented the audience with a street scene from 1910, in which every passerby wore a hat that covered their face.

“In 100 years from now, we’re going to have a similar transformation of fashion and the way that we appear.

“What will that look like? Hopefully it will look like something that appears to optimize our personal privacy.”

Mashable notes that facial recognition technology has become much more powerful, and can now be used for more than recognizing individuals by comparing their faces to faces stores in a database.

Research by Shanghai Jiao Tong University is said to be able to predict criminal intent from subtle facial details such as the nose-mouth angle and lip curvature.

“A lot of other researchers are looking at how to take that very small data and turn it into insights that can be used for marketing,” Harvey said.

“What all this reminds me of is Francis Galton and eugenics.

“The real criminal, in these cases, are people who are perpetrating this idea, not the people who are being looked at.”

Harvey said that he and design partner Hyphen-Labs will reveal more details relating to the Hyperface project later this month.

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