by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 6th 2007 1:34am
In the aftermath of 9/11, facial recognition software was a hot topic for a while. The idea was that it could be used to help catch criminals and terrorists as they wandered through cities or airports. There was just one little problem: it didn't work. And, by didn't work, I don't mean it sorta worked some of the time. I mean, it didn't work at all. The places that tested it out soon ditched it as a total waste of time and money. It turns out that making an exact match on faces is not an easy problem, and while the technology may eventually reach that point, it's nowhere near close enough to be useful for things like finding terrorists. That doesn't mean it can't be used in other scenarios, and over in Japan it appears that they're about to put facial recognition to the test as a way of stopping kids from smoking. Yes, one company has integrated facial recognition software with cigarette vending machines, so that it will not sell you your pack of smokes if you happen to have a babyface. You can wonder how effective this might be (my guess: not very effective), but it's still interesting to see those behind facial recognition software looking for different markets where the results don't need to be as perfect.
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