Stolen identity: A pair of printed glasses tricks facial-recognition software

printed glasses study
Researchers wearing a pair of printed glasses (top) fooled facial recognition software into thinking they were someone else (bottom). Carnige Mellon University
Annoyed at being automatically tagged with Facebook’s facial-recognition system? Wearing a pair of tie-dye-looking glasses could help. Carnegie Mellon University researchers recently conducted a study that concluded the right pair of glasses could trick facial-recognition software into thinking you are someone else. In fact, the glasses that cost less than a quarter to make successfully concealed the wearer’s identity in 100 percent of the tests.

While machine learning has allowed computers to easily recognize faces, computers don’t look at a picture of a face the same way we do — where humans see facial features like eyes and beauty marks, computers still see just pixels. Facial-recognition software uses measurements of the facial features — the researchers theorized that the right patterns on a pair of glasses could throw off those measurements.

Using the patterns that facial-recognition systems detect, the researchers printed the colorful patterns on a pair of glasses. Using a wide-rim style allowed the spectacles to take up about 6.5 percent of the pixels in the images tested.

The glasses had a 100 percent success rate at allowing the wearer to fly under the radar, but in some instances could even steal someone else’s identity. The software matched one of the spectacle-clad researchers, a 41-year-old white male, to actress Milla Jovovich — and the computer was 87.87 percent confident in the accuracy of that match.

The researchers’ intent was to find just how easy it is to fool the facial recognition systems inside security cameras, while still being inconspicuous. Facial recognition software will recognize when a person is wearing sunglasses and leave the eye area out of the calculation. The right makeup and even LED lights can also fool the camera, but it is a bit more obvious.

While the brightly colored glasses may not completely fall under inconspicuous, they are not the ski-mask-in-July instant alarm either. And since the patterns were simply printed onto the glasses, crafting a pair of camera-fooling shades wouldn’t be too tough for someone looking to trick security cameras.

“As our reliance on technology increases, we sometimes forget that it can fail,” the study concluded. “In some cases, failure may be devastating and risk lives. Our work and previous work show that the introduction of [machine learning] to systems while bringing benefits, increases the attack surface of those systems. Therefore, we should advocate for the integration of only those [machine learning] algorithms that are robust against evasion.”

Additional research needs to be conducted, the study noted, including using the eyeglasses with additional variables such as the distance between the wearer and the camera and using different lighting conditions.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

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 sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…
Photography

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.
Photography

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…
Photography

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.