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Hockey Fans to Test Facial Recognition Technology

Saturday, hockey fans in Kennewick, Wash., will take part in a tryout of a Homeland Security system—or they’ll have to carefully dodge the cameras

1 min read
Hockey Fans to Test Facial Recognition Technology
Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

On Saturday, hockey fans  at the Tri-City Americans game in Kennewick, Wash., will have a chance to participate in a test of facial recognition technology. To opt out, they’ll have to avoid the cameras by following designated routes.

The test, being conducted by researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will involve 20 researchers whose images have been stored; half will just behave randomly, sitting in the stands, visiting the bathrooms, buying a snack or two; half will follow predetermined routes. Computers will comb the video feeds to spot them. So the test can be graded later, they’ll wear ankle bracelets that will let researchers know when and where they passed in front of cameras.

Sporting events, where streams of crowds are guaranteed to pass through a contained area, are a popular place to test face recognition technology. French company Vesalis tested its technology during a soccer game at the Parc des Princes, the largest soccer stadium in France; Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) tested its system during home matches of the KSC soccer club. In Brazil, police officers plan to use wearable-computer-based face recognition to look for wanted criminals in the crowds attending the 2014 World Cup.

While these kind of tests continue to advance the technology, it is by no means ready for prime time, as James Wayman, former director of the National Biometric Test Center at San Jose State University told Spectrum’s Steven Cherry. The problems involve image quality (mug shots, often the only photo of a criminal available, are typically quite low in resolution), the size of the potential databases, and the legal and privacy issues of using the technology. (For Wayman’s complete analysis, see “Will Face Recognition Ever Capture Criminals?”)

Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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