back to article Japanese boffins tout infrared specs to thwart facial recognition

Don’t like the idea of having your mug identified in secret by a hidden camera? Neither does associate professor Isao Echizen of Japan’s National Institute of Informatics. As he notes in this paper: As a result of developments in facial recognition technology in Google images, Facebook, etc. and the popularization of …


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  1. Thorne

    Privacy at the cost of your diginty...

    1. LarsG


      Look like a real knob in these, but could they catch on and become a fashion accessory?

      It would only take a few celebs seen out with them on.

      1. FartingHippo

        Re: You'd

        They might catch on, but they are useless. This is clearly shown by the perfectly clear picture of the boffin in his operational Buck Rogers glasses. Mmmm, Wilma....

        1. E_Nigma

          Re: You'd

          They aren't supposed to make his face invisible, their purpose is to fool automatic facial recognition software, which they probably do if a couple of Japanese boffins say so.

          The mask because it also thwarts facial recognition.

      2. Wize

        Re: You'd

        Since this is going to get in the way of security cameras, it will eventually get the same treatment as a motorcycle helmet in a bank.

        Go the whole hog and take up the burka. At least you could claim it under some religious reason and not have to show your face, even at the airport.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Big Brother

          Re: You'd

          To paraphrase Ben Franklin:

          "Those who would have to give up their dignity to obtain a little privacy deserve neither dignity nor privacy."

          We should not *NEED* to have to use such things in order to maintain our privacy!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You'd

            "We should not *NEED* to have to use such things in order to maintain our privacy!"

            Maybe when the day comes that some idiot with their face covered decides to attack you in the middle of town you'll have a different view of people covering their faces from cameras.

            You will want the CCTV to catch them. You'll probably want the facial recognition to help catch them, but you at least want their mugshot on CrimeWatch.

            You'd probably even want them caught mugging the person before you, so you never get attacked in the first place.

            You will want your justice that would never come if we allow people to circumvent these devices put in for our own protection.

            1. Graham Marsden
              Big Brother

              Re: You'd

              "Maybe when the day comes that some idiot with their face covered decides to attack you in the middle of town you'll have a different view of people covering their faces from cameras."

              Thus writes the Anonymous Coward!

              Excuse me, I think I need a new Irony Detector, mine's just exploded...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You'd

                And the one advocating privacy is using their name...

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: You'd

                  Yes, I'm using my name because there's nothing in that post that would risk an intrusion on my privacy.

                  It's not rocket science.

            2. Vic

              Re: You'd

              > Maybe when the day comes that some idiot with their face covered decides to attack you

              I was attacked by a bloke who wasn't wearing any sort of face covering.

              > You will want the CCTV to catch them

              ...But it won't. All the coppers could tell me was that the images were insufficient for them to do anything.

              CCTV doesn't protect you. The resolution is not high enough for it to have any meaningful effect. The only deterrence it has is because some people *think* you'll be caught if you do something unlawful in view of a camera. And the serious lawbreakers know that the detection rate is laughable...


    2. Anonymous Coward


      So you lose your diginity? That's like the first time ever, presumably?

      Looking on the bright side, it could only ever happen once, and then you'd be free to wear the loon-specs every day without embarassment.

  2. Kevin 6

    and they double as extremely effective means of birth control

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Actually, not that bad for version 0.01

      Come on, give the guy a break. Does version 0.01 of your creation look any better?

      In any case, I do not see what prevents you from wearing an Armani version of the same spectacles. I also do not see what prevents you from making the LED carousel trigger on a flash. In fact IR "backfire" on a flash is a well known anti-camera method. It is not particularly effective against ANPR (what it was invented for in the first place), but should do the job against face recognition (and paparazzi for that matter).

  3. Blitterbug

    And it's not even 1/4

    ...or 4/1 for our Merkin friends

  4. easyk

    IR filter

    IR filter could probably counter this counter measure. If these cameras use silicon detectors then they may already have an IR filter in place.

    1. Hungry Sean

      Re: IR filter

      I agree it's a little surprising he's suggesting using IR since most cameras incorporate IR filters to get reasonable image quality (IR is not your friend). I see two reasons this could work:

      1) filters don't get perfect cutoff, so if there's enough power coming from the LEDS they could still mess up the response. Radiating in NIR probably helps this since the cutoff will be worse.

      2) many security cameras operate without an IR filter so that they can bathe an area in IR light and thus claim to "see in the dark". Adding a filter to these setups would prevent their ability to operate after hours.

  5. Lance 3

    My solution is much easier, a mask. If you want to go low cost, brown bag it. This is optional though, cut holes for the eyes and maybe for the mouth.

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      And the if you think the first cop that sees you wearing a mask or brown paper sack on your head isnt going to come over to have a chat with you, you're insane.

      The whole key to something like this would be making it concealed, not making yourself look like some crazy fuck with a damn grocery sack on his head like your suggestion, or like someone wearing ballistic eye protection such as the images in the article.

      Mount it on some sunglasses though and it would be perfect. Unless the camera has an IR filter, as others have noted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And the if you think the first cop that sees you wearing a mask or brown paper sack on your head isnt going to come over to have a chat with you, you're insane.

        Just make it a black sack and claim religious freedom...

      2. Lance 3

        Nothing says you have to talk to them. They also cannot legally detain you and if they did detain you, unlawful detention comes into play. Wearing a bag is not against the law. You don't think those glasses wouldn't get their attention either? I did say a mask as well, but I guess you forgot that portion with your short attention span. You could be a member of the church of Jason.

        Do the police stop people who wear a niqāb?

  6. JeffyPooh

    Better concept follows...

    Hat. Brimmed with small, physically small, high power IR LEDs. The LEDs are invisible to the naked eye, they look like beads. To a solid state camera, they're overwhelming. Flash the LEDs on-off at a rate that will confound the autoexposure time constant (on the order of 500 ms, need to experiment). Camera will be blinded enough that facial recognition would have a chance.

    Side benefit is all the security camera folks being driven insane. Rentacops running through the malls, looking for someone with a flaming hat.

    1. westlake

      Re: Better concept follows...

      >>Side benefit is all the security camera folks being driven insane. Rentacops running through the malls, looking for someone with a flaming hat.<<

      Let's ignore for the moment the possibility that the camera has an IR filter.

      Search Google Images for "shopping mall interiors." Count the number of people wearing hats. It might be a little different at Bass Pro.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: Better concept follows...

      You've read Pirate Cinema then ?

  7. Dalen

    That's not news...

    ...that's olds. Baseball caps with high-powered near-IR LEDs were being built for quite a while. Same effect, better fashion sense. Bonus points if you built one using a 2600 cap.

    1. Snapper Bronze badge

      Re: That's not news...

      I'm sorrry!

      'Better' fashion sense...................

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not infrared

    It's not infrared it's near infrared. Still visible light, which is why you can still see it in the photo above. It's probably 850nm, which is what is used as "near infrared" for most security cameras. I think the idea to mess with the auto exposure is one of the better ones though. Perhaps something that makes the camera think it needs to change the auto focus. On cameras that actually do that. Any camera which zooms, which would be all the ones that can move around on the street would also have auto focus and thus be susceptible.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Not infrared

      Yes, it is infrared, so no it's not still visible light. The "near" part of near-IR refers to that part of the IR spectrum nearest to visible light, it doesn't mean something that's nearly IR, because that would be just another name for red... The reason you can see the emitters working in the photo is precisely the reason why this idea works - whilst the near-IR emissions are invisible to the human eye, camera sensors are quite sensitive to them.

    2. Stratman

      Re: Not infrared

      "It's not infrared it's near infrared. Still visible light, which is why you can still see it in the photo above. "

      Point you TV remote control at you mobile telephone's camera and you'll see why you're wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        * YOUR

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IR filters

    All daylight digital cameras already have an IR filter, but they aren't perfect. Quite a bit of IR still goes through, so this could quite easily work, as long as the LEDs are bright enough.

    One possible problem is the faint red glow that humans can see from near IR LEDs. Though that may not be an issue under normal lighting conditions, I can't remember ever seeing an IR LED in daylight.

  10. LinkOfHyrule

    I think I'll stick to my rubber gimp hood, to at least save myself looking like a cyberpunk Elton John when my pic is taken like that dude in the picture does wearing those things!

  11. annodomini2

    The weakness in this...

    Given the 1984 states that many Governments security services would like, there would probably some form of regulation making this illegal.

    Yes, this tech may prevent your face being recognised, but given it uses visible light. It is also obvious.

    So as you are trying to fool the sensors, the sensors can detect that you are trying to fool them, making you a target.

    T-800 heading straight for you!

  12. mIRCat

    So wait, I'd have to wear these all the time anywhere there is a camera?

    I think I'd rather hang my coat at home than go outside in a pair of these.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2008 called, it wants its story back.

    Already been done, four years ago, by a situationist art group.

  14. TRT Silver badge

    For IR invisibility...

    Don't you just smother yourself all over with mud from the bank of a river?

    Icon: In case the mall guard sets his auto-destruct wrist band.

  15. bag o' spanners

    I'm sticking with my circa 1958 joke shop Groucho Marx nose, tache and specs combo. Cheap, effective, and a guaranteed pull in the Scar and Goiter.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    please remove your shoelaces and glasses

    and follow those in line before you while checking in to board a bus or a train. Please remove your glasses while entering our Tesco supermarket, so that we can properly conduct risk assessment procedure to even better serve our customers and to personalize the service they receive instore. Please remove your glasses and face-distorting stockings when walking on the street so that automatic traffic wardens can better serve the local community and avoid mishots. Thank you for your cooperation. No, you don't need to bend over and spread your cheeks on this occasion, we have the details of your cavities in our database already, but thanks for asking.

  17. Joe Harrison

    Lo-tech alternative

    You don't need Near Infra-Red. Instead just smudge black paint or boot polish over the lower part of your face it confuses the hell out of facial recognition software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lo-tech alternative

      How's that different to a dark coloured beard?

      1. FartingHippo

        Re: Lo-tech alternative

        I'm guessing you just used paint during Movember, thinking nobody would know the difference. (Hint: they did)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lo-tech alternative

          "I'm guessing you just used paint during Movember"

          Nope, I shaved as normal. I'm a bit of a sociopath anyway, so it all seemed a bit odd growing a bit of face-mould to "highlight male health issues". Nobody where I worked spent any time talking about nad cancer, or male depression, and as far as I could see the main things highlighted and discussed were along the lines of "Doesn't Gavin look a **** with that moustache?", which tended to back up my starting position.

          1. Joe Harrison

            Re: Lo-tech alternative

            OK I got it a bit wrong about the simulated beard. In fact you have to smear the boot polish around a bit more asymetrically. The faces without the red squares successfully remained undetectable,.


  18. 0laf


    I remember the IRA having some pretty effective technology to prevent facial recognition in the 70s and 80s which was mostly knitted by their Grannies.

  19. moonface

    Facebook facial recognition

    If I went out in those glasses. I would be all over Facebook. Tagged by bloody friends, thinking I looked stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook facial recognition

      How would they know it was you? Farcebook's facial recognition would hopefully be foxed as well.

  20. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Obligatory xkcd link

  21. Yesnomaybe


    Silly glasses, but the picture made me jump. My hair is a bit lighter, but that guy could be mistaken for me! Hope he keeps his glasses on.

  22. Mike Moyle

    Maybe I'm missing something...

    ... but if "cameras with outward-facing infrared lights." (the specific target of the device, as noted in the article) rely on the reflection of those infrared lights from an object (for focusing, visibility or whatever), wouldn't having an IR filter on the camera kind of defeat the purpose? I mean, it seems to me that if you're using IR lighting on your system, filtering out IR is probably the LAST thing that you want to do.

    Now, if you're saying that this wouldn't work on cameras that specifically don't use IR illumination/reception and block thoise frequencies, I would suspect that you were right -- but that's not the target that they were apparently aiming at.

    Or what am I missing?

  23. C-N
    Big Brother

    It is well known that in the future, we'll all dress as though we're in a Daft Punk video. Now we know why.

  24. Euripides Pants

    Have they tried it without the LEDs?

    It might just be the stupid glasses fscking the facial recognition.

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