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Foil face-recognition cameras with Privacy Visor

These dorky goggles shine near-infrared light to confuse computer vision systems. Are they the shades of the future?

National Institute of Informatics

Worried about all those security cameras tracking your every move? Try rocking one of these visors and enjoy anonymity once again.

At least that's what Isao Echizen from Japan's National Institute of Informatics is trying to achieve with the Privacy Visor (PDF).

Developed with Seiichi Gohshi of Kogakuin University, the visor has a near-infrared light source that messes up cameras but doesn't affect the wearer's vision, according to the institute.

They're hardly fashionable, but the lights create noise that prevents computer vision algorithms from extracting the features needed to recognize a face.

The prototype visor has 11 LEDs around the eyes and nose. They run off a lithium ion battery.

In a small experiment using OpenCV face-detection software and 10 subjects, the detection rate decreased to zero regardless of distance when the Privacy Visor was used.

"The possibility of photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images resulting in the invasion of privacy has already been pointed out in Europe and other regions," the institute writes in a release.

"Due to concerns about the invasion of privacy from SNS facial recognition functions, the European Union has requested the invalidation of facial recognition in Facebook intended for European users."

While the research was prompted by the popularity of phone cameras, social networks, and Google Images, as well as related privacy concerns, Echizen believes the visor could also be used to prevent privacy infringement through augmented-reality applications.

What do you think? Would you put these on to thwart the all-seeing eye?

(Via BBC News)