Kinnect your Face

I’ve been fascinated with technologies that allow us to interact with the computer better, everything from facial identification (who is near the computer) to expression recognition for changing the operation of the computer to reflect the user’s mood.

I discovered this organisation who are playing with Microsoft Kinect and OpenCV. OpenCV is the free and open source graphics processing library and already does some pretty amazing things (you just need a super computer to run it quickly enough for some tasks).

Using the Microsoft Kinnect device might be a smart move as getting the hight maps directly from the hardware allows the computer to cut down on the amount of calculations to figure out where faces are, how they move, and even recognition features.

What I really want of course is a GDM login screen which detects your face and asks for your password automatically (it’s used as a replacement for your username, not your password i.e. identification not authentication). This would be the pinnacle in community center login control.

What do you think?

11 thoughts on “Kinnect your Face

  1. I think in that environment it would be problematic, as you’d have too many in too close a proximity, and too many people. Would be a very hard thing to implement.

  2. @Dobey – yes, but fun to see what the problems are and what users would do in reflection of the issues. Not all user interaction is simply embrace or shun, sometimes users do some quite interesting things to compensate for the computers thick attitude.

  3. Face recognition in the login-screen was thrown up as an idea during UDS-O as to why webcams-working-at-login is a useful concept.

    The mouse/keyboard aren’t used very much on the login-screen so it would probably be enough to only fire up the webcam conditionally. Perhaps when the mouse-or-keyboard are in use && there is an unfilled-in form/entry box waiting. As a hypothetical example highlighting the difference between identification and authentication: a webcam could be used for ID and the fingerprint reader/dot-swipe for authentication.

  4. I think it would be easier to just type a username, or use a fingerprint scanner or some similar biometric thing as an identity provider. Since the user would still have to authenticate that the identity is correct, separately, with a password or something, I think it would only cause frustration. Trying to only change partially away from something the user is used to doing, would only add frustration, since for the unchanged part, they’d still have to do what they’re used to anyway.

  5. @Dobey & Paul – You don’t want to use fingerprint scanners for passwords, in fact you don’t want to use any biometric for passwords. Only information inside the head should be used for authentication, information outside of it should be used for identification. (because one is an id and the other is a statement of intent)

  6. I don’t think a password is a statement of intent. If it were, then 90% of the world would be stating they are quite happy to have others breach their very poor choice of passwords. I don’t see why you don’t want to use biometrics for logging in, but only saying “pick this user for me to log in as” instead. There is absolutely no form of authentication in the universe that is absolutely unhackable, if that is your fear for using biometrics for authentication. But I don’t see the point of making the UX more complex, for no gain in the process.

  7. @Dobey – Well the UX, true, we must always be vigilant not to introduce ugly gremlins. BUT, the biometrics such as face recognition, finger print readers and voice recognition are all so laughably insecure for authentication that a child of 6 could get around them.

    The idea is not to replace a password system which is dependant on the user being a fool with a biometric system that dupes them into being one. If that’s the road then we can just rip out the password box and replace it with a number pad, the first digit you press is your password. 9 guesses, even that’s more secure than biometrics available on laptops.

  8. I understand your idea just fine. My point is the UX for your idea is no better than just asking for the username and password anyway, because the user still has to use the keyboard. So forcing the user to use something else unneccessarily just makes it more frustrating for them, especially if the software has trouble recognizing them.

    And any system can be hacked, no matter how secure you think it is. Even if the “fingerprint scanner” was something that analyzed your DNA for authenticity, could be easily hacked. Retinal, fingerprint, facial, bone marrow, or anything else can be hacked. And so can passwords. Making things harder to hack is a good thing, but worrying too much about it, and sacrificing UX in the process is just as bad as making things easier to hack. Because that is exactly what you’re doing.

  9. @Dobey – It depends, if the system can recognise who you are from afar, or the subset of people it thinks you might be (fuzzy match) then you’ll have an easier time of clicking on your one face, rather then the many thousands of faces you could be if you were running a lab.

    The thing that sets biometrics apart is not that it’s possible to hack, it’s trivial to bypass. You don’t need to be any sort of hacker to do it.

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