Training Robots To Recognize You Is A Bad Idea

Active Appearance Modeling is an apparently helpful technology developed to help robots identify individual human beings. Let's take a closer look at how this works.

It's hard enough just to get computers to identify faces, let alone individual faces. However, now even cameras know how to identify faces (OKAO Vision Lets Machines See You Smile).

The next problem is to identify a face regardless of how it is presented to the camera (front and side). The video shown below gives you an idea of how computer brains can do it.

(Active Appearance Modeling video)

The basic idea is to identify specific landmarks on a person's face, like the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose and so on. Then, a mesh can be created by connecting these landmarks. Finally, the computer is able to create a three-dimensional mesh model of an individual face.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers are pushing this idea even further. Their active appearance modeling software can identify faces that are partially occluded by objects.

CMU is even working on advanced algorithms to fit AAMs to low resolution images, like those created by cheap webcams, or in poor lighting conditions where digital cameras cannot record a clear image.

Is this a good idea? I guess it would be good if my Scooba floor-washing robot or LawnBott robotic mower could recognize me. But is there a downside to being recognized by robots?

("You are experiencing a car accident")

I thought so. I'm sure there are other examples (readers?).

This article was inspired by this happy-go-lucky post at io9; see also Advance interaction using facial information and AAM Fitting Algorithms at CMU.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/21/2008)

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