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Leaked Docs Show DHS Is Afraid That Masks Will Make Facial Recognition Useless

People say masks are just a way for the government to control you, when in actuality it’s making their control more difficult.

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(TMU) – As the general public in the United States argues about whether or not we should be wearing masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, law enforcement officials are concerned that facial recognition software could be thwarted, and possibly even broken by people wearing masks.

In a collection of law enforcement documents released by Blueleaks, researchers found a Department of Homeland Security intelligence memo where the agency expressed concern about the potential problems that mask-wearing could cause for facial recognition technology.

The note, which was published on May 22nd, discussed what the agency described as “the potential impacts that widespread use of protective masks could have on security operations that incorporate face recognition systems — such as video cameras, image processing hardware and software, and image recognition algorithms — to monitor public spaces during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency and in the months after the pandemic subsides.”

The memo went on to suggest that, “violent extremists and other criminals who have historically maintained an interest in avoiding face recognition are likely to opportunistically seize upon public safety measures recommending the wearing of face masks to hinder the effectiveness of face recognition systems in public spaces by security partners.”

The agency admitted that its concerns were based on the fact that activists have traditionally expressed desires to thwart facial recognition, and not on any recent events during the ongoing protests. The report concluded that facial recognition could become increasingly worthless if mask-wearing becomes normalized.

“We assess face recognition systems used to support security operations in public spaces will be less effective while widespread public use of facemasks, including partial and full face covering, is practiced by the public to limit the spread of Covid-19,” the report stated.

Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, which uses facial recognition screening on international travelers, has also claimed that its technology works on masked faces.

In recent months, some companies have claimed that they are developing facial recognition technology that will work with masks. However, facial recognition doesn’t even work that well under normal circumstances, so it is hard to imagine a working system for masked faces.

Amazon’s facial recognition technology falsely identified 27 different professional athletes as criminals. While it may be true that professional football players have been known to get in trouble from time to time, this is obviously a failure of the software.

According to a Freedom of Information request filed by Wired, these are actually typical numbers for the facial recognition software used by the South Wales Police. Data from the department showed that there were false-positive rates of 87 percent and 90 percent for different events.

Similar numbers were released by the FBI in 2016, with the agency also admitting that their facial recognition database consisted of mostly innocent people since they use driver’s license and passport photos for their searches, in addition to mug shots. In fact, there is a 50/50 chance that your picture is in a facial recognition database. Also in 2016, another study found that facial recognition software disproportionately targeted people with dark skin.

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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings

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People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.

However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.

In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.

“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”

The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.

In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.

Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.

The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.

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Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone

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A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.

Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.

Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.

“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.

As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.

“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.

Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.

Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.

“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.

From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.

The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.

“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.

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