back to article Stalker attacks Japanese pop singer – after tracking her down using reflection in her eyes

A Japanese man indicted on Tuesday for allegedly attacking a 21-year-old woman last month appears to have found where his victim lived by analyzing geographic details in an eye reflection captured in one of her social media photos. According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, Hibiki Sato, 26, located the woman's residence by …

  1. Alan J. Wylie
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Red Dwarf

      Mine's a double Polaroid whenever I browse the electrical section of a store catalogue

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Opportunity

      "But there's an opportunity for some large cloud photo service to come up with a machine learning algorithm capable of blurring all the telling details that show up the reflections captured in digital images."

      Perfect cover for deep fakes. Any digital forensics that indicate the photo/video was altered can be ascribed to alterations made to protect the fake news victims subjects privacy. Perfect!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Opportunity

        Deepfakes don't need this for "cover". Altered-image and altered-video technology is improving rapidly, and will continue to improve until the alteration signals are too weak to be conclusively demonstrated. Eventually we'll reach the point of pixel-perfect alterations for common cases, where there's no signal at all.

        And people already routinely edit and alter their own pictures. Raw image data is cropped, adjusted for lighting, refocused, and modified with all sorts of effects.

        The era when photographic evidence had any real probative advantage over, say, eyewitness testimony is coming to an end. That's just the fact of the matter.

  2. Blockchain commentard

    Couldn't the sicko just have followed her home from one of her concerts? Tad easier.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      It quite possible that he perceived that that'd be weird.

      Some weirdo's are weird enough that they justify their own behaviour to themselves as being something the victim will find "romantic" because it'll show their "dedication".

      Not saying that's the case here, but I could well believe it

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Maybe she uses helicopters normally.

      Is there a martial art in 'obsessive behaviour' we need to know about?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Tabloid Journalism,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          paparazzi-jutsu

    3. veti Silver badge

      Such low-tech approaches are too well known and easily countered. It's not hard to shake someone who's following you on foot or by car, unless they have an overwhelming advantage in resources (backup). And I imagine idols routinely take those measures on their way home from gigs. (They certainly would if I were managing them.)

      This approach, being novel and non-obvious, bypassed the tried-and-tested obvious precautions. Chances are it'll never work again, now, as this story has got a good bit of publicity.

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Couldn't the sicko just have followed her home from one of her concerts? Tad easier."

      Or potentially found the information out in many other ways. Even if they make some effort to protect their personal life, how difficult is it really to find out information on a well known celebrity who regularly performs in public and spends the rest of their time posting pictures of their home on the internet for their fans to see? There was certainly a lot more information being leaked than just eyeball reflections and patterns of light on curtains. All it takes is a single fan to spot them in the local shop, or a single selfie with the curtains not quite closed properly, and the cat is out the bag. The events as described may well be possible, but seem to be going out the way to do it the hard way.

      Then again, would it really be expected for nutjobs who attack people they're supposedly fans of to make sensible decisions?

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Stalkers are CRIMINALS. They commit CRIMES.

      That being said, it might be a good idea in the future to have "less high res" photos on social media...

  3. Wellyboot Silver badge

    The tinfoil hats will just love this

    A creepy moment when reality catches up with TV/movie 'Enhance', what's next on the 'impossible' list'?

    .

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The tinfoil hats will just love this

      Ah, the deus ex machina of choice these days! "Let's Enhance!"

      https://youtu.be/Vxq9yj2pVWk

      It's better than reflectoporn. Like the kettle bloke.

      https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/indecent-exposure/

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The tinfoil hats will just love this

        Ah, but let us not forget this use case.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Love's Grand Sweet Song

    she was reportedly ambushed, assaulted, and injured by Sato, said to be a fan of her group.

  6. JustWondering

    Creepy?

    Take out the creep and the assault, put in Hugh Grant and you have a Rom Com.

    1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

      Re: Creepy?

      Hugh Grant is quite old these days? It would be more of a pedo horror show rather than a rom com...

      1. Ordinary Donkey

        Re: Creepy?

        I think they use vampires these days. Or is that old hat now as well?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's it!

    Lock up all the optometrists!

  8. MacroRodent Silver badge
    Boffin

    Unexpected result of digital cameras

    In real life, Rick Deckard (or the creep in the reported case) still would not be able to pull the stunt with a Polaroid photo. The resolution is simply not there. But photos from good digital cameras have for years had a resolution that matches what used to be the domain of professional medium-format film cameras.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

      Yup. I snapped a pic of a frog in a pond with my trusty D2X and a 70-200 f2.8 zoom. When I was looking at it, I was a) impressed as it was a quick hand-held snap and b) I could see myself clearly reflected in the frog's eye. It's also something I check for in studio shots to make sure there's no unwanted reflections. Fix is to either edit them out, or not post full resolution images without proofing for identifying info.

      1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        > I could see myself clearly reflected in the frog's eye.

        Think of it as a copyright mark or proof of authorship.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: clearly reflected in the frog's eye.

          A variant of Reflectoporn: Frogspawn.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        Yeah, I get reflections of myself in animal eyes quite often.

        One of the recent ones is in an alligator's eye. They're rather dark so the reflection is surprisingly detailed.

    2. Oengus

      Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

      But photos from good digital cameras have for years had a resolution that matches what used to be the domain of professional medium-format film cameras.

      Even the best digital cameras still don't even come close to the resolution of a fine grained 35mm film let alone a 6x4.5 or 6x6 medium format (and these are small medium format). I have some 400 asa 6x6 slides that you can't see the grain in even when projected to a 2 metre square image. The 25 asa 35mm slides are similar.

      1. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        The photos taken by the Nokia N8 were put on billboards. (2010 12.1 megapixels)

        Not a fair comparison, but well past the point of 'good enough in most cases'

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        I recall reading around 10 years ago an article in the Finnish photography magazine "Kameralehti", which compared a 6x6 (Hasselblad, if I recall correctly) with a then top-of-the line digital SLR (I don't remember the make). They came close, but the DSLR was slightly sharper.

        I don't doubt your slides appear grainless, but that is not the whole story. Film grains are not pixels! They vary in size and shape, and the light also disperses in the emulsion. This is also a bit like LP vs CD. Golden ears can claim whatever about LP quality, but the reality is unless you have a perfect player and disc, CD is going to sound better. The typical compact 35mm camera, loaded with random ISO400 film from the nearest chemist or grocery store would lose badly every time to any current affordable digital compact, or even a camera phone.

        I still like to occasionally shoot film, and actually find it liberating that I no longer need to fuss about film grain. If I want clinical sharpness (or just convenience), I use digital. Otherwise I just enjoy the "organic" way film reproduces the scenes. And the knowledge that the resulting film negative is likely to outlast in practice any digital media...

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

          Another parameter to consider is aperture. The maximum image resolution is only achieved at fully open aperture. As soon as you start stopping down, you lose resolution - whether film or digital. And rather quickly you arrive at an optical resultion which is well within the reach of even mediocre digital cameras.

          If I remember correctly, f-stop 4 reaches about 24 MP on a full frame (135 film) format. And that's for an ideal (i.e. flawless and hence inexistent) lens.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

            > The maximum image resolution is only achieved at fully open aperture.

            This is not the case (as you can see yourself by browsing lens reviews on the net). The maximum resolution is actually obtained at some smaller aperture, which depends on the particular lens. Something like f/8 is often optimal, but it really varies.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

              I think yo're confusing resolution with depth of field here. Depth of field, i.e. how much of the image is in focus in front of and behind the focal point, varies with aperture (small F number = larger aperture = shallower depth of field....large F number = smaller aperture = greater depth of field). Regardless of aperture, the image resolution, i.e. dimension in pixels will be the same.

              If I take a photograph using a large aperture and there are areas which are blurry (bokeh) then its not because of the resolution of the image - it's because a fairly open lens won't focus on much each side of the focal point.

            2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

              Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

              @MarcoRodent

              I believe you're confusing optical/ideal resolution (which I was refering to) and practical resolution. With fully open aperture you get a shallow depth of field and hence lose information on out-of-focus areas. Practically, you often get most information (not to be confused with resolution) at f/5.6 to f/8 - this optimises depth of field and resolution. In addition, many lenses (low and medium range) do not deliver high sharpness at open aperture, again limiting the information.

              Mind you, whatever you choose, the actual resolution is always smaller than the ideal resolution due to imperfection in the lens design and production. And, at least when using high-end lenses, the highest resolution is achieved at open aperture.

              1. MacroRodent Silver badge

                Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

                No, I am not confusing resolution with depth of field. The lens tests reported in magazines and on the net I was referring to shoot a flat test image, no depth. And they get the best result at some middle aperture. I am not totally sure of the reason, maybe using the "middle part" of the lens excludes manufacturing imperfections at the lens edges, but when you go to very small aperturres you start getting problems with diffraction, so the resolution starts to worsen.

                (Actually you appear to agree with this; " the actual resolution is always smaller than the ideal resolution due to imperfection in the lens design and production". Of course. Nobody can photograph with ideal mathematical lenses in reality. Like all technology, real lenses are engineering trade-offs.)

                1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

                  Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

                  Sorry for my wrong assumption. That seems to be the issue: a particular lens may not deliver a high quality image (i.e. sharp) at open aperture; only when stopping down it'll produce a sharp image and therefore maximum information. When you go for high-end lenses (thinking £4'000 and up) this effect vanishes and you get a crystal clear image at open aperture (even at f/0.95); they are still not perfect lenses, but close enough ;-)

                  1. Cederic Silver badge

                    Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

                    Even the £4k lenses tend to be sharper at f4 than at wider apertures.

                    The cost is because they can go brighter than other lenses, and/or they're sharper at any given aperture than the cheaper lenses.

        2. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

          400 ASA is pretty fast, and grainy film. Fuji Velvia slide film is 60 ASA. You can project those VERY large without a problem. Why yes, I own a tripod, or several. Why do you ask?

      3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        Your behind the times. Consumer-grade film an processing was surpassed by digital a long time ago.

        Remember the dossier in a plastic wallet that some journalist read from a photo?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

      Something similar was discussed on the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast a few weeks back - a full-resolution photo from a modern phone camera can capture sufficient detail that if your hands are in shot, e.g. brushing hair from your face in a portrait, that an attacker could recreate your fingerprint pattern.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        The major difference is emulsion is random while (digital) pixels are in a regular grid so for some sorts of image moire effects are an issue with digital but not for emulsion.

        Other than that and with ongoing advances in sensors I think digital is the way to go.

        1. MacroRodent Silver badge

          Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

          > image moire effects

          That is why digital cameras usually low-pass filter the image, with a slightly blurring glass filter in front of the sensor. Some cameras nowadays omit this, I guess it is possible when the sensor resolution is so high that it exceeds the resolution of the optics.

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        Ten years ago researchers copied a key just from photographs of the original taken from 60m away.

        1. KLane
          Pirate

          Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

          It's actually easy to do this, as the garden-variety (non high-security) keys have a fixed number of pre-defined cut depths, 6 to 10, and number of pins, typically 4 to 6. You just need to recognize the make of key, and try a few different keyway blanks for that make. To make it even easier, some keys have the cut numbers stamped on the head face, such as those by Kwikset and Schlage.

      3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        Much as I love to listen to No Such Thing As A Fish, I wouldn't take their word on a technical issue. I've heard one or two episodes where they betray surprising ignorance. Bear in mind that these people are connected to QI.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

        At least one paedophile was identified from his fingerprints in a hi-res child porn image. In another case the perp was tracked down because the image resolution was sufficient to allow the police to zoom in and read the labels on prescription medicine in a bathroom cabinet in the background of the shot.

        1. baud

          Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

          There's also one pedo who posted a pic on which he had obscured his face using a reversible algo, so his face was easily retrieved

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

            Yes, that would be the spiral one. Apparently someone at (insert_space_agency) got paid well for providing the software but it took a while.

            Supposedly it is used to deblur images so that you can read the number plate on a car though atmospheric distortion.

            1. DJO Silver badge

              Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

              Supposedly it is used to deblur images so that you can read the number plate on a car though atmospheric distortion.

              As almost all number plates are vertically aligned, seeing the number from directly above might be a bit tricky.

              However military and civilian emergency vehicles often have numbers on the roof, these might be readable from space.

    4. The_H

      Re: Unexpected result of digital cameras

      Twin Peaks. Reflection of James' hog in Laura Palmer's eyes. Clearly Dale Cooper had a way of doing it off a shaky NTSC VHS movie.

  9. ninjakidd

    Weirdo

    I thought I was the only weirdo look at the reflections in people's eyes in TV shows and movies as you can always see unseen info, like camara and light postions. Didn't think someone would take it to this extreme level.

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    New Instagram filter opportunity

    Eye tracking in camera app, that places stylised Manga eyes over the eyes of the subject.

    Still, it's 2019 and Japan still has flesh and blood pop idols? I'd have assumed they'd all be virtual idorus by now!

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

      If you caught the BBC (IIRC) tv show with Sue Perkins in Japan you'll understand exactly how scarily disturbing the 'pop idol' thing is over there ... not virtual but who needs manga wierd when you actively encourage weirdo!

      1. RizKat

        Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

        Actually, there were two shows aired recently that were almost almost the same format. One was Sue Perkins, the other was Joanna Lumley, both in Japan.

        While both were initially highly sceptical of the 'pop idol' scene, having each spent an evening at a show with the fans their opinions were significantly changed and neither seemed to view it with the same 'disgust' they originally expected to experience.

        Maybe it's a cultural thing - from what I've seen on TV the bloke in this article may be the exception amongst the fans rather than the rule. Nearly all celebrities get the occasional stalker, whatever country they're from.

    2. Tomato42

      Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

      > I'd have assumed they'd all be virtual idorus by now!

      the majority isn't virtual just yet, but the virtual ones already have real concerts...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

        I really must get to Japan whilst I'm still youthful and slim.enough to pass for a rock star and get mobbed by hordes of women... apparently it doesn't matter if you don't look like a specific rock star (as long as you fit the architype) since it's been known for young Japanese women to mob casually-dressed western men on the off-chance that they are actually famous for something.

        I wouldn't seek to use their misunderstanding to engineer sexual encounters, but rather as a rock n roll fantasy it seems marginally safer than crowd surfing - provided I'm wearing earplugs!

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

        "the virtual ones already have real concerts..."

        "Already" is doing a lot of work in that sentence - almost 20 years' worth. Gorillaz debuted in 2000 and their first 'concert' was 2001. Not sure if any Japanese (or indeed any other) virtual musicians pre-date that

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

          Not quite virtual, but the very next best thing: Elvis Presley (posthumously) and his daughter Lisa Marie in concert together.

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: New Instagram filter opportunity

        > I'd have assumed they'd all be virtual idorus by now!

        the majority isn't virtual just yet, but the virtual ones already have real concerts...

        If you want to watch one, what was probably the best-staged show overall was the 2013 "Magical Mirai" show at Yokohama Arena. It's the one I recommend if someone wants to see a good Vocaloid concert. Although the VR videos of IA / ONE from 1st Place Software are amazingly realistic as well. (an English language example if you don't want to listen in Japanese).

  11. VinceH
    Joke

    Optional

    Wait! Does this mean Crime Cops is no longer a parody?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gap in the app (market) ?

    to manipulate images and insert fake reflections in the eyes. Send your stalkers on a wild goose chase ...

    Here's me with the Empire State reflected in my eyes ...

    and so on ...

    Double fun if you want the spooks to have to send two teams to catch you. One to London (is that Tower Bridge reflected there) and one to Sydney (where the pictures GPS metadata points to ...)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Gap in the app (market) ?

      My thoughts too. Here's the website of a kind soul who has created some HIgh Dynamic Range environment maps and is offering to everybody under the CCO licence:

      https://hdrihaven.com/hdris/category/?c=all

      There's some GNU software available to convert lat long images to a circular format - though I've forgotten its name - and Blender or a Blender rendering plugin will likely do the trick. GIMP couldn't do it a few years back, don't know if this transform have been added since then.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken

      Re: Gap in the app (market) ?

      Or Scotland Yard.

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Gap in the app (market) ?

      Why limit it to two? Two eyes for different reflections and the exif makes three. And of course those three locations are the only ones guaranteed to be where you aren't.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Gap in the app (market) ?

      Yes but. People are taking the selfies and posting them to show where they are. Unless they are trying to fake being in Paris instead of a low rent flat in Newark, NJ, they are taking photos to give away (share) to exploit themselves.

  13. Matthew Taylor

    Software to the rescue

    So now there will be a filter to black out people's eyes to avoid stalkers. That will make for pleasant viewing. Or better still, a more advanced filter to replace the reflections with a sponsored product logo, while leaving the eyes intact.

  14. Montague Wanktrollop

    Just dawned on me....

    So that's why celebs wear sunglasses at night! I always thought they were just twats.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Just dawned on me....

      You can see a lot more reflections in sunglasses...

      1. FrogsAndChips

        Re: Just dawned on me....

        So now there's a market for Ventablack-coated sunglasses.

  15. Marcus Fil
    Alien

    I'll see your reflections in eyes in photographs..

    and raise you the reflections in the eyes of "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

  16. NonSSL-Login
    Meh

    Creepy vs Fun Game

    Be it reflections in objects or posting the ridiculous route their Uber driver took took from their home to where their latest picture of a cold beverage on a table was taken....people don't realise how much stalker info they post. Exif viewing browser plugins will often pinpoint addresses from images posted on forums because their is no EXIF cleaning on most.

    Finding random peoples home address from twitter and social media posts has always been a fun game for me when I have a few minutes spare and has taught me how to be even more careful with what I post and where as a result. There will be no photos of shiny bronze vases or teapots taken while naked and uploaded for sale to Ebay either...

    I love the way someone gets described as a fan, despite going well out of their way to attack the girl. Confused fan.

    Im not creepy enough to post anonymously....yet!

  17. DBH

    CSI is going to have to step up it's game and start identifying someone from the reflection in the eye of a person who is themselves a reflection in the eye of the subject, we're at least 10 years from catching up with that

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zoom in there...

    Enhance...enhance...

    Left 3 spaces...

    Enhance.

  19. lowwall

    Enhance 34 to 36

    Any excuse to link to https://typesetinthefuture.com/2016/06/19/bladerunner/

    If you are a fan of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, typography, design, or just humour in general, please visit.

    Details of the ESPER sequence are about midway. Beginning with

    After his ineffectual piano playing, Deckard decides that it’s time to study Leon’s photographs in more detail. In doing so, Blade Runner gives us perhaps the Ur Example of popular crime trope the Enhance Button, via the suspiciously amazing ESPER Machine:

    This chunky-looking gadget is a voice-controlled photographic enhancer with an almost supernatural ability to follow its controller’s verbal instructions. When Deckard inserts Leon’s photo into the ESPER and asks it to enhance 224 to 176, it diligently enhances 197 to 334 as requested:

  20. fredj

    rely that last line is incomplete?........... "and sell the information so that it can be used by Google, credit agencies, Facebook and all the usual crowd".

  21. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Privacy v. Secrecy

    This pop idol was perfectly happy to post her life online because she had "nothing to hide". Not too bright.

    The Bladerunner story is an easy example but there are also real life stories about targets in the Middle East posting videos with a known date/time. Given a few cues to narrow down the area, they were pinpointed by the weather and shadows.

    Facebook and other services aren't (illegally) deleting EXIF data for privacy reasons. Whatever you post to social media you have granted them full rights to so they don't want to make it easy to find the original author as they can collect money by licensing it themselves if they want. The thing is that people will post the same images to several different places. If they've captioned the image with something like, "My favorite restaurant near my house", one could take that image and do a search for it to see where else it's been posted. Chances are one of those other images may have the GPS data embedded since many people leave GPS on all of the time and the camera app's default is to record it with the image.

    I found a nice lady on a single's site and for giggles, I took one of the photos she posted and did an image search to find out a bit more about her. One of the first hits was her web page, she's a musician. A quick Whois and I have her full name and address. She didn't care to go out but I did tell her that she needed to only use images on her single's page that she wasn't using elsewhere and she should use a privacy service for her web site. It's just too easy to find people if they aren't paying attention to what they post online. In this case, I wasn't trying very hard (and wouldn't have).

    I'm a photographer too so I am also looking at eyes to see if I can see how a portrait is lit if I like the photo. I've never thought about stalking somebody through selfies, but it's easy to see how it wouldn't take that much to do it.

    I don't think that automatic image editing software is going to be able to do a good job of concealing information. There is just too much to consider and it would be more likely to ruin the image. Bad images will just make people stop using it.

  22. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My ex-girlfriend had a obsession with the singer Ellie Goulding, she would study every social media post to try and work out where she was looking up picture of her house to see if she could find it from Google street view. Other than that, she was quite normal. But I have to admit It was a bit creepy.

  24. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Stabbie McStabface Hemostatic dressings

    The knife attack in Manchester yesterday reminded me I should share a tip here, and this seems the most appropriate article.

    Peace activists used to travel to Iraq at the height of the war there and we'd provide them with haemostatic [us:hemostatic] dressings designed to stem blood flow from wounds. We'd learned that because they were standard issue for US troops. I just bought them for my London nephew and niece because, well, London.

    Read this, and add it to your first aid kit and carry one with you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemostatic_dressing

    Most stab victims die from loss of blood before getting to hospital rather than the underlying injuries. This helps.

  25. ChaosFreak

    Spelling error

    Her name should be spelled Matsuoka, not Mastuoka.

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