By Emma Fiala
As technology advances, more and more people are tossing their arms in the air and declaring they’ve got nothing to hide while giving up most of their rights to privacy for the sake of convenience. Meanwhile, those that value their privacy are finding it more and more difficult to operate in an increasingly surveilled world.
The advancement of social surveillance and facial recognition technology is something that should concern everyone, regardless of what one may, or may not, have to hide. For those leery of having their faces scanned while out in public, various methods to thwart the technology have begun to surface but none have looked quite as elegant and intriguing as Ewa Nowak’s metal facial jewelry.
The project, Incognito, is worn on the face much like a pair of reading glasses. It places two round pieces of metal over the wearer’s cheeks with an elongated matching piece between the eyes, that reaches upwards toward the hairline.
On the surface, Incognito appears to be a piece of contemporary brass jewelry akin to a tribal mask. However, the facial jewelry successfully covers elements of the face relied on by facial recognition algorithms.
The Polish designer’s project was tested using Facebook’s DeepFace algorithm in order to ensure its effectiveness and was born out of Nowak’s discomfort resulting from the eerie ability of facial recognition software to successfully pinpoint such characteristics as age, gender, and mood in mere seconds.
This project was preceded by a long-term study on the shape, size, and location of mask elements so that it actually fulfills its task. When testing solutions, I used the DeepFace algorithm, which is used by Facebook.
While Nowak’s Incognito is only a prototype at the writing of this article, fans of the project are eager to see it materialize in real life.