LED baseball cap fools facial-recognition tech into thinking you’re someone else

facial recognition hat infrared 1521232010160 1
Zhe Zhou
Zhe Zhou

There’s a constant push and pull when it comes to new security-related technologies. Researchers will invent a new security system, only to have others find a way of circumventing it, before still others come along and find a way to further strengthen it. That’s a vicious cycle and it certainly applies to facial-recognition software, which is now widely used in everything from airport security to unlocking our iPhone X handsets.

A new project carried out by researchers in China threatens to undermine it, however, through the creation of an LED-studded baseball cap, which is able to trick facial-recognition systems into thinking that you are another person entirely. The smart (but scary) hack involves projecting infrared dots of light onto a person’s face, which are then detected by facial-recognition cameras and wrongly interpreted as facial details. In a demo, the researchers were able to fool facial-recognition cameras into thinking that a person was someone else (including the singer Moby) with more than 70 percent accuracy.

“Through launching this kind of attack, an attacker not only can dodge surveillance cameras; more importantly, he can impersonate his target victim and pass the face authentication system, if only the victim’s photo is acquired by the attacker,” the researchers write in a publicly available paper. “… The attack is totally unobservable by nearby people, because not only is the light invisible, but also the device we made to launch the attack is small enough. According to our study on a large data set, attackers have … [an] over 70 percent success rate for finding such an adversarial example that can be implemented by infrared.”

This isn’t the only similar example of so-called “adversarial objects” we’ve come across. Previously we’ve covered adversarial glasses that are able to render people unrecognizable to facial recognition, and a way of altering textures on a 3- printed object to make, for instance, image-recognition systems identify a 3D-printed turtle as a rifle.

While the latest China-based study hasn’t been peer-reviewed, and therefore we can’t vouch for the results, it seems that more and more examples are highlighting the potential weaknesses of computational image recognition.


Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Smart Home

Protect yourself: Here are some of the best home security systems

Looking for the best home security systems for your house? These systems offer the best mix of devices, smart features, monitoring services, and fees that you can afford (plus good customer service reports).
Smart Home

Viral porch pirate videos freak people out, cause unrealistic concern

Viral porch pirate videos convince others crime is more prevalent than facts indicate. According to polls, even though FBI reports show property crime rates are at historic lows, more people worry about crime today than ever before.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!