Aug 12, 2015 | By Alec

3D printed Privacy Visor prototype

Over the past few years, Big Brother-esque life has become increasingly realistic throughout developed societies. In part, we are to blame ourselves for consciously sharing our entire lives online, but there’s also an external culprit: facial recognition software. Combined with a couple of security cameras, this type of software means we can say goodbye to any form of privacy in a public space. Not even sunglasses will protect you. Fortunately, the National Institute of Informatics from Japan have used 3D printing to develop an interest set of privacy visors to solve this annoying problem.

The previous prototype.

Japan's government affiliated National Institute of Informatics (NII) has been working on the concept of privacy visors for a few years now, first revealing its prototype in 2013. At the time, these glasses relied on lining the visor with LEDs placed around the eyes and nose – while not being seen by humans, it definitely prevented cameras from capturing your face. Unfortunately, it was powered by a bulky lithium-ion battery and looked terrible – and for some reason that latter truth is far more important to most of the world than their privacy.

A report on the earlier prototype.

Fortunately, this second version looks far better. Instead of using LED lights to frustrate software, it instead relies on light-reflective materials and an angled mask to disrupt things like the Viola-Jones object detection framework by simultaneously absorbing and bouncing back light sources. While face recognition algorithms look for light around darker areas around the eyes, nose and cheekbones, reflecting all that light in strange patterns frustrates the search for specific landmarks on your face.

‘Photos taken without people's knowledge can violate privacy,’ the NII team says. ‘For example, photos may be posted online together with metadata including the time and location. But by wearing this device, you can stop your privacy being infringed in these ways.’ What’s more, its lightweight and semi-transparent to avoid it bothering the wearer. The white pattern on the surface can also be angled in just about every way possible to thwart software.

This new set was unveiled at a demonstration in Tokyo on August 11, where NII staff showed off facial recognition software, how easy it is to capture the identity of visitors and showing how the visors can protect them. ‘This is a way to prevent privacy invasion through the many image sensors in smartphones and other devices that can unintentionally photograph people in the background,’ NII researcher Isao Echizen explained at the event. Among others, he cited Google Glass’s NameTag as part of the problem.

Echizen, who headed the study, further said that this is the first product in the world to effectively combat facial recognition. ‘We are often told not to unveil our personal information to others, but our faces are also a type of an ID. There should be a way to protect that,’ he said. Current tests with the glasses have tricked facial recognition software about 90% of the time.

So where does 3D printing come in? The current prototype glasses have been 3D printed in resin, which was found to be perfect for prototypes with such uneven shapes. NII has teamed up with Maezawa Mold to produce Privacy Visor prototypes using Stratasys' Objet30pro 3D printer. These were covered in a plastic film to ensure light reflection. However, when these visors come to market, they will be mass produced and slightly more stylish and compact, with titanium frames.

These interesting privacy visors are set to be released in the summer of 2016, after a successful crowdfunding campaign raised more than two-thirds of its ¥2 million ($16,016) goal to take these to market. The expected price is around  ¥30,000 (or about $240 USD, though there are no plans for a release beyond Japan right now). It’s an excellent concept, even though it’s a solution for a problem that should’ve been avoided in the first place.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Scotland Yard wrote at 8/15/2015 1:08:50 AM:

Don't forget, the human ear is like a fingerprint!

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