Facial recognition technology can now beat make-up

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Facial recognition technology can now beat make-up

Related tags Research

Colour cosmetics might make people look good, but lipstick and eyeshadow can also play havoc on facial recognition technology, which is what U.S. Army researchers have been working to rectify.

A team of researchers from Maryland’s U.S. Army Research Laboratory are working on the development of a new thermal-imaging technology, superseding existing technology that could otherwise be fooled by make-up or army face paint.

The research is likely to have a bearing on the types of technologies that are used during warfare, as well as for security screening applications where there is the potential for criminals to avoid recognition with camouflage face paint or make-up.

Polarmetric-thermal imaging is the winner

The research has been led by team of five Ph.D. scientists whose mission was to try and improve recognition of faces using conventional thermal and polarimetric-thermal images both before and after applying the make-up and face paint.

The research underlined how the surface materials applied to the face had relatively little effect Polarimetric-thermal imaging recognition of faces, compared to conventional thermal technology.

The team of researchers describe their findings in an article published in The Optical Society (OSA) journal, Applied Optics.

A new approach to an old problem

“Our study has demonstrated polarimetric-thermal imaging can be substantially more robust to face paints, and to a degree cosmetics, for facial recognition than visible imaging,”​ said lead researcher Nathaniel Short, who is on contract with U.S. Army Research Laboratory as part of the Image Processing Branch.

“Our experiments show how face paints and cosmetics degrade the performance of traditional facial-recognition methods and we provide a new approach to mitigating this effect using polarimetric-thermal imaging.”

 Although the first stages of the research have proved promising, particularly in underlining the advantages of polarimetric-thermal imaging for this purpose, the scientists say that the development of the new technology for this application is still in the beginning stages and that significant challenges still lay ahead before it is ready for the market.

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