Privacy visor fools facial recognition

CIO | Aug 19, 2015

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics have come up with a way to help protect privacy.

All around us, more and more security cameras and mobile devices have face detection functions. You never know who’s watching you or tagging you on some social media app.

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, however, have come up with a way to help protect privacy. It’s a simple tool that can thwart computer-vision algorithms that can automatically detect and possibly recognize faces.

This is a prototype of the Privacy Visor, a plastic shield for the eyes that can maintain the anonymity and privacy of those who wear it.

The visor consists of a basic, 3D-printed frame and a semitransparent plastic film covered with small white lines or dots.

It has evolved from a model that had 11 LED lights around the eyes.

The latest prototype doesn’t require any power. Put it on, and facial-recognition programs won’t find you.

So how does it work?

The angle of the visor reflects overhead light into the camera. The white patterns on its surface add to its reflective power.

Algorithms that work by looking for dark areas around the eyes will be confused when seeing bright light there, and won’t see a face.

It even works without any glasses frames holding up the film, which can be designed in a variety of patterns.

After years of development, the visor is going on sale next year.

Now part of a crowdfunding campaign, the visor will have titanium frames and will cost at least 240 dollars when it goes on sale in June 2016.

In Tokyo, Tim Hornyak, IDG News Service.