Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Yo' Face, Facial Recognition!

I've been in hiding for the past five months. Specifically, I've been hiding my face...

Have you read the news about Facial Recognition systems? This technology uses cameras and computers to automatically identify people by comparing their facial features to a database.


Once limited to science fiction, facial recognition is now used by governments and corporations for everything from law enforcement to targeted advertising to social networking.

But I've emerged from hiding to share good news: I can fool facial recognition! Using cunning and crochet, we can reclaim our privacy!

I'll post how-to photos next week, after my nose heals. Until then, here's a video of my Anti-Facial Recognition System:




UPDATE - March 20, 2012

Despite the vision-impairment glitch, the Anti-Facial Recognition System offers these privacy-protecting facial expressions:


You can create those expressions with a blank mask and a handful of facial features:

Endorsed by Anonymous (Howie Woo)

Stitch velcro onto the back of each piece.

MJ recorded the FACE:REC video and helped make this project possible. We demonstrate how blank expressions are equally effective against prying eyes:


I hope this demonstration empowers us to protect our privacy and to apply brakes on the rapid use of facial recognition on our lives.

One day, I hope to upgrade the Anti-Facial Recognition System with a vision-providing, head-mounted camera that will identify nearby facial recognition systems by linking to a database.

In yo' face, facial recognition!

89 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. hehe Glad you like it! And thanks for the first comment after my five-month period of cobwebs & crickets ;)

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  2. OMG! it's totally worth the long wait :)
    great job!

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    1. Thanks for your patience while I went underground for 5months :) I've memorized the subways & sewer system by now!

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  3. Welcome back! Oh, how I have missed you!

    This does raise the age old question, 'Are you a man, or are you a muppet?'

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    1. I missed blogging regularly too, and I'm grateful that you returned to visit! The videos take a lot longer than planned. (Also, video games ;)

      I am neither man nor muppet.. I am a manpet. Wait, that doesn't sound right... I'm a Muppman?

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you use my Anti-Facial Recognition System to maintain your anonymity ;)

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  5. This is wonderful Howie! You are not only a master at crochet, you are also a master at film making, story telling, and comedy!!! Just brilliant. Thanks for making my day.

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    1. So nice of you, thank you! Isn't it great when we learn new things, and then blend them together with the previous things we learned?

      MJ made the video possible, especially with her camerawork & directions while I was sightless. Her "marco! polo!" guidance skills made my blind walk down the street far less dangerous!

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  6. Thumbs up, man! Very creative! And when you put the blank canvas on your face, I was wondering how well you would be able to see. I had that answered XD

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    1. The funny thing is that—when I first completed the mask—I was relieved that I could kinda see through the stitches. But when I stuck on the velcro eyeballs when we videotaped, I finally realized I'd be sightless that day. Duh, eh? :D

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  7. We love your work. My family of 6 has just stood around the computer watching and laughing here in NZ. Fantastic. Can't wait to see what you do next. I now have 1 scared 2 year old girl and 3 little boys demanding an encore.

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    1. Thank you for describing your heartwarming family scene in NZ :) The young & young-at-heart are the best audience :) I hope your 2 year old won't have nightmares about creepy crochet masks!

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  8. Howie, That's fun! I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. I'm happy you enjoyed the hi-jinx!

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  9. Hey Howie - fantastic, so much fun! Loved the anime eyes especially :-)

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    1. The anime eyes are my fave too :D There'll be photos next week with matching poses for each expression. Thank you, Jessica!

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  10. Alright, you made me snort when you started pulling out the features for your face. :)

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    1. hehe SOLs are more fun than LOLs ;)

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  11. Oh Howie - you are too funny and way too awesome!! I watched this this morning but didn't have time to comment, and then while I was getting ready for work I heard my 4 kids all watching it huddled around the computer. They LOVE your creations. Have missed you in blogland, but the wait was worth it!!

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    1. I'm so happy to make you and your beautiful family happy again with my yarny wackiness :) And thank you for asking about my whereabouts when I was away! You got me to put the pedal to the metal (...crochet hook) :)

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  12. definitely worth waiting 5 months for!

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    1. I'm grateful you feel that way, thank you! The too-long time spent on this project was spread out over those 5 months, in between two drawing assignments, the holidays, a case of food poisoning and a couple video games hehe ;)

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  13. So great to see you back Howie. Don't stay away so long next time, I need your brand of cheer up!

    ** Kate **

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    1. Thanks, Kate :) I plan to be speedier for the next few projects! After working on the video for so long, I miss working with yarn :)

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  14. LOL...that was awesome! Thanks for the laugh. :o)

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    1. Happy that my smushed nose could bring forth laughter :D *crunch*

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  15. You're back!!! This is awesome, so so so much fun! :D

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    1. hehe The project was fun to work on too, in retrospect :) MJ and I chuckled about the passerby in the last shot of the video… He wasn't an actor! After "cut!", I took off my mask to see him across the street, a lil concerned :)

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  16. Awesome!! Amazing!! Love the anime eyes!!

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    1. In a few days, I'll post photos of me posing with each expression, including those anime eyes 8) Thanks!

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  17. Too funny. As usual, this is awesome.

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    1. I'm also happy that my broken bones could tickle your funny bone :)

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  18. génial , ta video est exellente , une autre! une autre! une autre! !!!!....

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    1. Merci beaucoup :)) La vidéo a été amusant de faire!

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  19. j'adore!!!! c'est génial !!! quel travail!!! félicitations!

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    1. Merci pour vos encouragements, Augustine!

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  20. Thanks so much for making me laugh. I love to crochet and you got me in stitches ;).
    Stay inspired!
    Michelle
    Brain Angles - Invisible Ink

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    1. Thanks! It's super to share a laugh with a fellow yarn-lover :D

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  21. I work for an online privacy company, and I've done significant work around facial recognition (see this blog post, for example: http://www.abine.com/wordpress/2011/the-top-6-facial-recognition-faqs/), so naturally I LOVED this. It's funny, but it also gets across the scariness of facial recognition. Awesome job.

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    1. It was fascinating to read your article on facial recognition… It's such a powerful technology with far-reaching repercussions. And I'm flattered that you liked my light-hearted take on such a heavy topic!

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  22. Thanks for the laugh. 1984 is here george o :(

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    1. So true, eh? More and more, the eyes are always watching, unblinking.

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  23. Replies
    1. *grateful expression*, then *smiley expression* ;)

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  24. Addictions: caffeine and potato chips. :D

    The powers that be are going to throw you and me in the same cell for that one, my friend.

    Jen

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    1. hehe Have you hit rock bottom yet? Just today, I ate a bag of dollar store potato chips and a mug of mediocre instant coffee... We need an intervention!

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  25. Que bueno el vídeo, la cara huevo frito es lo más.
    Besos

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    1. Espero que sea un huevo lado soleado ;) Gracias!

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  26. Howie, you rock my world with your creativity and your humour. Excellent design and as always, an awesome video of awesomeness. *Eleventy Bajillion Thumbs Up*

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    1. I appreciate all eleventy bajillion thumbs up, thank you! I That's enough to rate good movies for a very long time :D

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  27. That was just wonderful! I love that you left the last scene with the passerby in. Really glad to see you're back, Howie.

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    1. When I was lying on the ground, a few people walked by without skipping a beat. They probably saw the tripod and assumed it was for show... I hope, at least ;) The fella at the end, though, he watched from across the street with some concern until I stood up, laughing :D

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  28. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

    Where did you buy that mask? Or you created it?

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    1. I created the mask... twice! For the first mask, the velcro wouldn't stick well to the type of yarn I used. The second mask was "sticky" enough, thankfully...

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  29. Governments are one step ahead of you...

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-422

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    1. Too true! It looks like the struggle between surveillance & anonymity will continue, as both sides ramp up their efforts. Anonymity looks to be the underdog, alas.

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  30. hilarious and amazing as always! i actually jumped/cringed when you hit the pole at the end.. i was really into the video! haha

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    1. haha We brought along a portable mattress pad for that pole stunt, and my face was also a good distance away from the pole during the faux-impact. But at one point I did miss the mattress, and my hand landed onto MJ's shoe instead. Thankfully, her shoes were cushiony :)

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  31. das finde ich eine super Idee und so lustig ,kreativ,genial !!!!

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  32. OH MY GOODNESS!! My favorite WooWork to date!! You had me laughing out loud on this one. You ain't right and that's what's so darned lovable about you.

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    1. I'm so happy that this is your favourite, even after all the years you've been reading :) I'm slowly working on the next WooWork project (a comic strip, kinda)... Hope you'll like that too!

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  33. I don't have any account to comment from, but I just wanted to say this is SO amazing :D
    It would take me forever to do and it probably wouldn't look half as good.

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    1. Thank you for anonymously commenting, it's very fitting ;) I appreciate your nice message!

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  34. Replies
    1. amazeballz... That's excellent to add to the ole resume as well :D Thank you, Danielle!

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  35. I proper laughed out loud, your faces have made my day! awesome work.

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    1. LOL that is actually laughed out loud? Rarity! Thank you :)

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  36. i really love that you went to the trouble to make so many eye, eyebrow, nose and mouth prototypes. also adore the anime stylizing. i think you will be interested in this project: cvdazzle

    its about defeating facial recognition through simple means.

    it would be cool if you had prototypes resembling the character from "V for Vendetta" and the "Laughing Man" from Ghost in The Shell.

    Cheers

    ^_^

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    1. Oh yah, the "V for Vendetta" anonymous face would've been fitting!

      The camera-fooling makeup in that CV Dazzle project.. Maybe that'll be the next-gen look of makeup or temporary tattoos. Fashion-forward, at least :D

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  37. I love this and your work, keep it up! You bring bright smiles to a lot of people and I know you will be blessed for the happiness you share!

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    1. Thank you for your reminder of what it's all about, Donna :) I'm working on the next WooWork project right now, between a drawing project (short-term) and learning to write iOS apps (long-term).

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  38. ahahahahhhahahah very nicely done. The matching faces with the posture of your body hahaha cool. Great job!

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    1. Happy you liked it! I relied on MJ to suggest poses that might fit each face :)

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  39. Very cute. You always do such great work. Thanks.

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  40. Dear Howie,

    Just happen to chance upon your blog while surfing thorugh another blog. Your works are truly amazing and I really love your creativity. I especially enjoyed reading your fridge critters posts. Sooo Very Cute.... ^_^ In the event that you do publish your own ami book, I'll be your first customer yah? Your ilustrations, coupled with your vimeo recordings showcase your creativity. I am a new crocheter and wish I could have half as much inspiration as you have in creating stories that you do with each of your creations. I love how you include your family members into your blog posts too. Very touching... :)

    I have read through your blog from beginning to end and how I wish we could keep in touch to exchange designs and ideas or even something which we make with our hands...Looking forward to your next post Really. All the best.

    Best wishes,
    Ginger




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  41. Loved it!! Reminds me of the mime group that wears all black and uses things like note pads, pipe cleaners, t.p. rolls, etc. I can't spell the name, but it starts with M (pronounced like moo-man-shants I think). Maybe you can find away to see with the mask, then it would make a great Halloween costume. Keep up the good work.
    Ellie

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  42. hello Howie,
    i love your crochets and your ideas.these are wonderful.i am so happy to see your page, following you ;)

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  43. You rule, Mr. Woo. Cunning crochet…indeed.

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