Artist Designs Stylish Jewelry that also Defends Against Facial Recognition Technology

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artist design jewellery to avoid facial recognition

Privacy concerns are one of those side effects of technology that can make you wish the world would return to the Stone Age, dinosaurs and all…

These days, people are paranoid worrying about how to prevent their privacy from being invaded. Many have been institutionalized from the fear of constantly being watched, followed, monitored, and tracked, also known as scopophobia. AI has made it too easy for someone in another part of the world to track a person’s daily movements and activities. Even some tech giants have been accused of using their devices and software to spy on people [1]. Facial recognition systems are getting better (and cheaper) every day, so much that people now feel violated and cataloged as they go about their daily lives. But this hasn’t stopped Facebook from utilizing the software they call DeepFace, which apparently can use facial recognition technology with 97% accuracy. This began in 2014, and now they have, “the largest facial database to date.” [2] With that said, there are those out there who aren’t keen on the idea of facial recognition tech cataloging them. 

Ewa Nowak is a talented Polish artist, writer, and teacher. The 52-year-old came up with a classy yet simple jewelry design to give people back some of the privacy they’ve lost in modern times [3]. Incognito is a contemporary polished brass mask made of three geometric shapes that are worn like a pair of glasses, with the shapes covering the cheekbones and forehead.

It was designed based on some of the ancient tribal masks used by indigenous communities. This chic mask can block facial recognition software from tracking the wearer by scanning the lines and contours of your face. The shapes are connected by wires that secure the jewelry firmly over your ears. Although the mask is basically two circles on the cheeks and a slightly curved rectangle between the eyes, it’s still as alluring as any piece of art can be.

incognito

Incognito beat Facebook’s algorithm

Nowak believes her invention can guarantee people of increased security from these “dangerous” technology plaguing modern society.

“Every day, hundreds of cameras are watching us, facial recognition systems are becoming more and more perfect, and the place of current speculations about the future is occupied by sophisticated and advanced technology,” says Nowak. “Cameras are able to recognize our age, mood, or sex and precisely match us to the database – the concept of disappearing in the crowd ceases to exist.”

Ewa worked on the design for a long while before she arrived at the end product. She explains that she tested each prototype on Facebook’s DeepFace algorithm which identifies human faces in digital images. The final design worked perfectly well and beat the algorithm. Facebook wasn’t able to identify the person wearing the mask in the image. The shapes disrupted the features on the person’s face in a way that the algorithms wouldn’t be able to read them correctly [4]

Although this piece of jewelry isn’t something you’d see people wearing casually down the street, Nowak is confident it will be one day. 

Other artists have also come up with accessories to help people protect their privacy. In a project called Accessories for the Paranoid, artists Katja Trinkwalder and Pia-Marie Stute created four “parasitic” devices that can generate “a veil of fictive information” to cloak a user’s true data from online thieves. The devices include an “un-hacking” webcam that can generate fake scenes to feed hacker and others that push fake information to the trespasser. 

Visit Ewa’s website and her Instagram page to learn more about Incognito and see her other amazing designs.

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