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Shake your head all you want, Russian says head vibrations reveal your thoughts

Categories Biometric R&D  |  Biometrics News  |  Surveillance

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When something as speculative and daring as emotion recognition earns a degree of acceptance in the biometrics industry, even the utterly weird ‘VibraImage’ line of products seems somehow possible.

VibraImage is the keystone surveillance line for Elsys Corp. that reportedly can predict a person’s actions and emotions based on the vibrations of their head and neck.

Another Elsys product can assess a person’s psychological makeup from a 3-D scan of their 10 fingerprints. Others can hear a person’s “brain voice” via video chat, the company says, and tell when someone is in love.

For 21 years, Elsys has been working on a technique to measure how a person’s head moves, but most particularly how it invisibly vibrates. The company’s marketing material claims VibraImage “detects all human emotions” with biometrics based solely on 10 seconds of ordinary surveillance video feed.

A research associate with the Alan Turing Institute, writing in The Conversation has a skeptical take on the company’s claims about emotion recognition and sparked the ire of Elsys CEO Viktor Minkin.

For reasons that are not clear, Minkin emphatically denies the researcher’s linking of VibraImage and AI. He says, rather, it uses proprietary non-AI software to analyze video frames for miniscule differences caused by blood flow and the micromovements of muscles.

Among Elsys’ supporting content are videos that allegedly show actual video feeds showing men and women just before and during committing criminal acts.

Most people watching the feeds would make the same judgment as quickly — robbers and shoplifters generally give themselves away even without head vibrations.

Of course, few people watch monitors in real time, which would make VibraImage’s alerts useful. Shopkeeps regardless would have to respond to an alert extraordinarily rapidly to prevent a loss or injury.

VibraImage, according to Elsys, has already stepped onto the global stage. The software has been used at major sporting and industry events, although it is difficult to corroborate whether systems were deployed strategically or as a demonstration.

The company claims it had a significant role in Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Its marketing states that 1,000 inspectors analyzed 3 million visitors a month with a 95 percent accuracy rate.

Most of the people caught had unspecified contraband or tried to enter without tickets. It is, again, unclear if inspectors used VibraImage to pull suspects aside. The New York Times spotlighted the product in a largely credulous piece about security at the Games.

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