‘Hyperface’ Anti-Surveillance Clothing Seeks to Confuse Facial Recognition Programs

Ian Waldie/Getty Images
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

As facial recognition shifts from movie magic to mundane reality, one man is taking a unique approach to the preservation of personal privacy with clothes to confuse such technology.

His name is Adam Harvey, and he’s both technologist and artist. His idea is to use fashion to thwart the ever-growing threat to our privacy. “Hyperface” is a system of applying garbled and vaguely face-like patterns to clothing and accessories in order to “[overload] an algorithm with what it wants, oversaturating an area with faces to divert the gaze of the computer vision algorithm.”

The patterns could also be used in a general area to make it especially difficult for individuals to be digitally picked out of the surrounding scenery

The current climate of facial recognition technology is polluted with half-baked ideas that recall fiction like Minority Report or Psycho-Pass. Researches are claiming the ability to discern everything from age and gender to internal personality traits, or whether or not someone is a pedophile — using nothing more than a simple photograph. This means that both private and public entities may soon be making judgments about you based on the shape of your head, walking the same tired routes as phrenology once popularized.

Instead of allowing people to take “very small data and turn it into insights that can be used for marketing,” he envisions a future in which clothing is used to help us retain some small level of privacy. His previous project, CV Dazzle, was an experiment in this same principle but applied to hair and cosmetics.

It’s interesting to note how similar both Hyperface and CV Dazzle’s designs are to common science fiction depictions of the future. Without knowing, some of our modern storytellers may have inadvertently been giving us visions of tomorrow’s actual fashion practicalities all along.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.


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