This anti-surveillance scarf messes up facial recognition devices

The scarf features 1,200 carefully plotted pixelated faces, which are meant to throw off computer algorithms.

May 08, 2017

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The scarf features 1,200 carefully plotted pixelated faces, which are meant to throw off computer algorithms.

Image source: Hyperface

Hyphen-Labs, a technology startup consisting of women of different nationalities and ethnicities, has collaborated with Germany-based US-born artist Adam Harvey to launch a scarf that camouflages wearers from various facial recognition software often used in social media, retail stores and law enforcement.

Adopting Harvey's Hyperface technology, the scarf is designed with 1,200 carefully plotted pixelated faces, which are meant to throw off computer algorithms.

"We wanted to start messing with technology because we are being recorded constantly," Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, one of the group's founders, said in interview with science magazine Inverse. "We think that privacy and security is something that we all need to be considering, especially because our privacy is being sold. How we're communicating and what we're doing, we have no control over anymore."

Harvey explained that the design works by scrambling recording efforts using "maximally activated false faces based on ideal algorithmic representations of a human face." This leads to data overload in surveillance systems, hampering the software's ability to distinguish and recognize faces.

The Hyperface scarf is made of silk and set to be available for retail this summer or fall.

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