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Monday, January 12, 2009

AI and Robots: No Smile Allowed, When Technology Is Not Good Enough.

Since I've been struggling with my hand recognition application, which is far easier than face recognition, I thought I discuss some more about facial recognition applications.

In a previous post, I talked about how current facial recognition built-into laptops can easily be hacked. Today we'll talk about another real application of facial recognition, and specifically, what do people do when the technology fails.

About 20 states in the US use facial recognition technology with driver's licenses. To fight identify fraud, one standard procedure at DMVs is that the DMV employee would looked at the old photo of a person to see if it looked like the person seeking a new license. Using facial recognition technology, this step can be automated to improve efficiency, and the technology also, supposedly, allows the detection of facial features that are not easy to recognize by human, thus improve the accuracy of the detection.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles recently rolled out a new set of rules governing how people must be photographed on their driver's license photos. Unfortunately, Indiana drivers are no longer allowed to smile. Smiling is taboo alongside glasses and hats.

What's going on here? Turned out the new restrictions are in place because the smiling can distort facial features measured by the facial recognition software according to BMV officials.

It is very interesting to see the kind of restrictions placed on users when the technology should have done the job. Here's something that for sure will improve the accuracy of the facial recognition even more: How about requiring all drivers to get a crew cut (men and women) and to be clean shaven?

I simply can't resist to show this picture below, which is part of the grooming standard in BYU's Honor Code, which I am openly opposed to.


Facial recognition technology was also tested at airports in hope to detect terrorists, but failed miserably, as expected.

"According to a story by the Boston Globe, the security firm which conducted the tests was unable to calibrate the equipment without running into one of two rather serious problems. When it's set to a sensitive level, it 'catches' world + dog. When it's set to a looser level, pretty much any idiot can escape detection by tilting his head or wearing eyeglasses."


The most popular facial recognition algorithm used today is SVM (Support Vector Machine) because of its good performance with real world data. The video below demonstrate how well the algorithm works (also using Gabor wavelets).




Anyway, I think there is still a long way to go for facial recognition technology to be useful in serious applications. Frankly, I am no good at facial recognition myself. A lot of times, I rely on hair style, glasses wore to help me remember people's faces. However, I don't think it is a good idea to impose lots of restrictions on the user because the technology is not good enough. That's my 2 cents.

Newton Moment: when you do things that are considered silly by normal people simply because you are too focused in thinking about your research.

Exceeding wife's tolerance threshold for the number of Newton Moment per day can cause serious consequences.



Video of the Day:
Try detect this face!