Demo Spring 2012: The Image Authenticity Problem

In the world of Photoshop and its brethren, can we ever tell if an image is real?

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Real, or photoshopped? It’s hard to look at any image these days without wondering if it’s been tweaked a bit.

Verifeyed, a company from Prague, presenting at Demo Spring 2012 last week, says they can tell they can tell an original image from one that has been cropped, cleaned up, or otherwise manipulated. Their approach is not typical—it doesn’t use a watermark, or look at individual pixels for odd vagaries. Rather, the company has analyzed 8000 cameras and scanners so far, with more in the pipeline, to determine each type of camera’s “footprint.” By comparing the image against the camera’s footprint, the company says it can quickly and easily spot alterations. The technology can also potentially spot the “fingerprint” of an individual camera, making it useful for enforcing laws against, for example, child pornography.

Verifeyed’s technology came out of government funded research conducted at the Academy of Science in Prague, says company vice president Bill Appleton,  Verifeyed expects to market its software to insurers, banks, dating sites, and other commercial customers, to help them identify fraud.  A boon for those customers, but, for the rest of us, said Jolie O’Dell from VentureBeat in critiquing the technology, “Now we’re going to find out that nothing cool ever happens and everyone is ugly.”


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