Identifying people from video streams or boatloads of images can be a daunting task for humans and computers.
But a 4-year development program set to start in April 2014 known as Janus aims to develop software and algorithms that erase those problems and could radically alter the facial recognition world as we know it.
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Funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's "high-risk, high-payoff research" group, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Janus "seeks to improve face recognition performance using representations developed from real-world video and images instead of from calibrated and constrained collections."
During daily activities, people laugh, smile, frown, yawn, and morph their faces into a broad variety of expressions. For each face, these expressions are formed from unique skeletal and musculature features that are similar through one's lifetime. Janus representations will exploit the full morphological dynamics of the face to enable better matching and faster retrieval, IARPA stated.
IARPA says Janus is not focused on furthering generic object recognition, or on the development of advanced interfaces for facial analysis but rather wants new technology that can make use of use new image representations where additional information such as novel poses or lighting variations to improve recognition performance.
IARPA envisions experts from quite a variety of technical fields could come together to develop a Janus system: biometrics, pattern recognition and machine learning, computer vision and image processing, computer graphics and animation, mathematical statistics and modeling, physiology and anatomy, high performance computing, and software development. Development teams might also include detection experts from other fields in which signal processing involves multimodal, noisy, incomplete, and contradictory data.
IARPA noted a number of challenges potential vendors will have address to build a Janus system, including:
A Janus system would no doubt raise a number of privacy and security red flags. Other advanced facial recognition systems already face a number of legal challenges. For example in June the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit to force the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to turn over records about a facial-recognition database it is building.
From an IDG News Service story on the suit: The EFF, in a lawsuit filed .in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asked the judge to require the FBI to respond to the civil liberties group's Freedom of Information Act requests about the agency's Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database, scheduled to launch in 2014.
The new database is described as "bigger, faster and better" than the agency's current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the EFF said in court documents. The new database will create a unique "face print" for each person included, the EFF said.
"Governmental use of face recognition -- and the potential for misuse -- raises many privacy concerns," EFF's lawyers wrote in court documents. Facial recognition allows identification of people in public and can be used to track people in public settings and on social networking sites, the EFF's lawyers wrote.
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