Science and Environment

How to stop facial recognition cameras from monitoring your every move


Are you concerned about facial recognition cameras monitoring your every move? Some large venues and arenas are using it as a security measure, claiming it ensures safety for guests and employees. However, the technology is also being used for surveillance and to block people from entering businesses.

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As was the case for New Jersey native Kelly Conlan. Conlan was just passing through security at an event at Radio City Music Hall when security stopped her and refused to let her into a Rockettes show because their facial recognition software identified her as an attorney. 

Although not involved with the case, Conlan works for the same law firm that has been involved in a personal injury litigation against a restaurant owned by MSG Entertainment, which also owns Radio City Musical Hall. The company decided that all attorneys working for law firms engaged in litigation against them are banned “from attending events at our venues until that litigation has been resolved.” More and more of these types of facial recognition incidents are happening nationwide. So what do you do?

Well, one start-up may have the answer to how you can stop this from happening to you. The company is called Cap_able, and its mission is to create wearable fashion that will help you to make the choice of whether you want your face analyzed by facial recognition devices or not.

Its mission is to create wearable fashion that will help you decide if you want your face analyzed by facial recognition devices or not.
(Cap_able)

What is Cap_able, and what have they created?

Through their Manifesto collection, Cap_able has created a line of hoodies, pants, t-shirts, sweaters and dresses that are embedded with artificial intelligence algorithms that thwart facial recognition software. 

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The facial recognition cameras will either fail to identify you completely or think that you are an animal embedded within the clothing pattern, like a giraffe, zebra or dog. This gives you more control over your body without having to worry about technological devices always monitoring you.

The cameras will either fail to identify you completely or think that you are an animal embedded within the clothing pattern.

The cameras will either fail to identify you completely or think that you are an animal embedded within the clothing pattern.
(Cap_able)

How are the designs made?

Co-founder and CEO Rachel Didero came up with the idea for these designs while studying for her Master’s at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She had read a story about how tenants in Brooklyn fought against their landlord who wanted to have a facial recognition device at the entrance of their building and got inspired to create something that would give people a choice.

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Combining fashion and engineering, Cap_able designs and tests each image with an object detection system called YOLO to see if they can beat a facial recognition system. They can then create a physical version of the pattern using a Computerized Knitwear Machine and create the final product using all Egyptian cotton.

Do the designs really work?

Didero says that, as of now, the clothing worked about 60% to 90% of the time when being tested with YOLO. Although Cap_able’s algorithms are improving, they also have to keep up with the fast-paced, moving world of tech.

Facial recognition devices are being improved upon every day, so they certainly have their work cut out for them. And with the products starting at the price of $300, it may be a hard sell for the company. However, they make a valid point about the invasion of facial recognition and continue to work hard to improve their technology.

Cap_able's algorithms also need to keep up with the fast-paced world of tech.

Cap_able’s algorithms also need to keep up with the fast-paced world of tech.
(Cap_able)

There are also some other ways to limit your exposure to facial recognition cameras:

  • Wear clothing or accessories that obscure your face, such as a scarf or hat
  • You can also buy clothing with built-in cameras that can detect and alert you to surveillance cameras and software
  • Use privacy-protection technology, such as anti-facial recognition makeup, which is designed to obscure certain features of your face, or wear specialized glasses which can be equipped with infrared lights or parts that can confuse facial recognition cameras
  • Be aware of your surroundings and actively look for facial recognition cameras, and try to position yourself where the camera cannot see your face
  • Avoid locations where facial recognition is known to be in use.

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Here in the U.S., there is currently no federal law requiring signs to be posted if facial recognition cameras are being used in a public or private place. However, some states and municipalities have laws and regulations regarding the use of facial recognition technology, and those laws may require signs to be posted. It is important for you to check with your local authorities to determine what, if any, requirements apply to the use of facial recognition cameras in your specific area.

What are your overall thoughts on facial recognition cameras? We’d love to hear from you.

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