Japanese professors design infrared glasses to thwart facial recognition

January 22, 2013 - 

Two Japanese professors have designed a pair of glasses to thwart facial recognition systems, using simple near-infrared lights only visible to cameras, Slate reports.

Isao Echizen and Seiichi Goshi from Tokyo’s National Institute of Informatics and Kogakuin University, respectively, have assembled the glasses of lab goggles with small circular lights attached. The lights are powered by a battery held in the user’s pocket.

The two professors are now redesigning the glasses to make them more fashionable and the two predict the final product will cost roughly USD $1 per pair.

These two aren’t the first to use infrared lights to thwart facial recognition systems. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, hacktivist group Anonymous has posted a video about the very same thing, and proposes a similarly-designed baseball cap with infrared lights.

Facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in public places today, and is implemented for a variety of reasons, including security and customer analysis.
Almax, an Italian mannequin maker has produced the EyeSee, a mannequin that watches customers in retail locations and uses facial recognition to log age, gender and race.

Similarly, NEC has also created a facial recognition system, called NeoFace, which allows merchants to profile customers to estimate demographics, as well as identify shopping frequency and repeat customers.

Echizen and Goshi are catering to a market concerned about the use of biometric technologies, in particular, facial recognition in public places. BiometricUpdate.com researcher and editor Rawlson King recently attended the CES 2013 in Las Vegas and put together a run-down of some of the biometric interests at this year’s event. Among them is a presentation by MorphoTrust USA general counsel, Scott Boylan on the legal and commercial implications of facial recognition technologies.

“Facial recognition is a powerful tool. It holds great promise for security as well as protecting the privacy of millions,” Boylan said. “At the same time, there are concerns that this technology could be misused. While MorphoTrust’s place is not in those policy debates, we can help inform the conversation. Whatever the opinions are, they should be decided with facts, not rumor or emotion.”

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for BiometricUpdate.com. His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for CBCNews.ca, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj