Artist Creates Fabric That Can Fool Facial Recognition Tech

Derrick Broze

A German artist has revealed a new technology that he hopes will make it easier for individuals to avoid the growing Surveillance State.

Adam Harvey is an artist and “technologist” based in Berlin, Germany who is well known for using his artistic prowess to create art and fashion that could potentially disrupt the capability of facial recognition technology. Harvey has been profiled in the past for his elaborate ideas on styling hair and makeup in a way that prevents faces from being recognized by surveillance cameras outfitted with facial recognition software.

He is now working on a new project called Hyperface. Harvey is working with international interaction studio Hyphen-Labs and plans to release full details later this month. The Guardian reports:

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

Speaking at the Chaos Communications Congress hacking conference in Hamburg, Harvey said: ‘As I’ve looked at in an earlier project, you can change the way you appear, but, in camouflage you can think of the figure and the ground relationship. There’s also an opportunity to modify the ‘ground’, the things that appear next to you, around you, and that can also modify the computer vision confidence score.’

According to Harvey, the Hyperface project will work by “overloading an algorithm with what it wants, oversaturating an area with faces to divert the gaze of the computer vision algorithm.” To do this he is working with Hyphen-Labs to create patterns that can be worn or wrapped over an object or person. “It can be used to modify the environment around you, whether it’s someone next to you, whether you’re wearing it, maybe around your head or in a new way,” Harvey told The Guardian.

Harvey also discussed how certain researchers are studying facial characteristics and movements in order to identify potential criminals or the age, gender, and mood of a person. Interestingly, Harvey related the attempt to use facial recognition software to study the human species in such a detailed way is reminiscent of the American Eugenics movement of the early 20th century. The Eugenics movement in the United States would go on to be an important inspiration to Adolf Hitler’s philosophy.

“A lot of other researchers are looking at how to take that very small data and turn it into insights that can be used for marketing,” Harvey said. “What all this reminds me of is Francis Galton and eugenics. The real criminal, in these cases, are people who are perpetrating this idea, not the people who are being looked at.”

Harvey’s last project focused on hair and makeup to deflect the watchful eyes of Big Brother and Sister. The belief was that the odd patterns and colors would work in the same fashion Harvey hopes his new cloth patterns will. Harvey’s website CV Dazzle explained the process:

OpenCV is one of the most widely used face detectors. This algorithm performs best for frontal face imagery and excels at computational speed. It’s ideal for real-time face detection and is used widely in mobile phone apps, web apps, robotics, and for scientific research.  OpenCV is based on the the Viola-Jones algorithm. This video shows the process used by the Viola Jones algorithm, a cascading set of features that scans across an image at increasing sizes. By understanding how the algorithm detects a face, the process of designing an “anti-face” becomes more intuitive.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/12774628

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

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