After the Coronavirus outbreak in China, face masks became mandatory in two provinces in China.
In an effort to contain the coronavirus, the Chinese government insisted that millions of residents wear protective face coverings when they went out in public.
As millions wore masks across the country, the Chinese discovered an unexpected consequence to covering their faces.
It turns out that face masks fooled facial recognition-based functions, such as for nurses gaining access to certain areas of hospitals.
The fact is, facial recognition is a way of life in China. What I mean is, this technology is necessary for many routine transactions in the country.
With the face masks, Chinese citizens found certain mobile phones, condominium doors and bank accounts wouldn’t unlock.
However, that all quickly changed due to a Chinese tech company. The Chinese firm, Hanwang, claims it has improved its facial recognition software to recognize people wearing masks 95% of the time.
The company told local media that its tech previously recognized mask-wearers half the time, but said this rate improved after it created a 6 million-strong database of photos of people wearing artificially-generated masks.
Beijing-based Hanwang specializes in recognition focused technology like handwriting recognition tools and biometric fingerprint software, as well as facial recognition cameras.
According to the company, there are 2 million facial recognition cameras at business or government buildings in China.
The reality is, facial recognition cameras are continuing to expand around the globe. These days, chances are any major city you visit has cameras that are reading your face.
With that being said, since we all value our privacy, I want to share with you a few ways that may give you the added edge needed to move around undetected by facial recognition.
Scarves and hoodies. Clothing designers have developed prototype scarves and hoodies that can help disguise you from things such as drones or facial recognition cameras.
The special clothing is made with silver-plated fabrics that can reflect thermal radiation.
In other words, the metal-plated fibers reflect and diffuse thermal radiation emitted by the body, which reduces the wearers thermal signature seen by cameras.
The material is similar to an aluminized mylar blanket, but is easier to wear.
Add photos. As we all know, technology isn’t perfect and even the best systems can be fooled. This is why research shows that facial recognition can actually be mislead by using photographs.
Basically, if you attached a photo of a person or even a few people to the front of your shirt, there is a chance facial recognition may not be able to detect your face or the picture.
In other words, adding a photo of other people can trick the facial recognition system into not recognizing your face or the photo because the software algorithms can be deceived by the addition of the picture.
T-shirts. New research by Northeastern University proposes a new type of T-shirt that allows people to mask themselves from facial recognition surveillance detectors by wearing tops with “adversarial” printed images on them.
What this means is, multicolor images are meant to trick object detection algorithms into seeing something different from what’s there or not seeing anything at all.
In some cases, these designs are made by tweaking parts of a whole image just enough so that the facial recognition can’t read it correctly.
According to researchers, the t-shirt had a 63% success rate in physical testing.
The reality is, there is no totally effective way to avoid facial recognition (unless you walk around with a mask on), however, the methods above give you an increased chance of avoiding having your face recorded by cameras as you go about your day.