Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door

Who is it for?

Here's a case of two technologies racing for the finish line.

On the one hand, the ability to fake a face into a video stream.

The Times explains:

"Emily - the woman in the above animation - was produced using a new modelling technology that enables the most minute details of a facial expression to be captured and recreated.
She is considered to be one of the first animations to have overleapt a long-standing barrier known as 'uncanny valley' - which refers to the perception that animation looks less realistic as it approaches human likeness.
Previous methods for animating faces have involved putting dots on a face and observing the way the dots move, but Image Metrics analyses facial movements at the level of individual pixels in a video, meaning that the subtlest variations - such as the way the skin creases around the eyes, can be tracked. "

Doesn't quite work, does it? The pink blankness of the rendered area is still creepy - if that's considered to be outside the uncanny valley, I guess I'm just easily creeped.

On the other hand, the ability of computers to pick a face out of a video stream is improving by leaps and bounds.

Boingboing wrote, in May:

"In "China's All-Seeing Eye," Naomi Klein explains the terrifying and banal reality of China's new surveillance state, and the way that it represents a triumph of "Homeland Security" technology swaps between the US and China:

Their task will be to match the images to other photos of the same people in the government's massive database. Several biometrics companies, including Yao's, have been invited to compete. "We have to be able to match a face in a 10 million database in one second," Yao tells me. "We are preparing for that now."

The idea is to measure the effectiveness of face-recognition software in identifying police suspects. "

In the future, we'll all be tracked all the time. There won't be any privacy. But it won't matter; no one will care as everyone knows that all video can be doctored. Caught on camera leaving a crack den? Just deny it. You're easily faked. On the other hand, if you're relying on a Van Nuys ATM's surveillance video to exonerate you from suspicion of being in Vegas that night some stuff went down? That won't work either.

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