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UK police set to trial Robocop style facial recognition

One of the biggest problems I had  with the recent Robocop remake, was that while the technology was impressive, it was so much less so than the original from back in the day. Sure robotics that can keep a person's brain, face and spine alive without anything else is beyond what we can do now, but not as much as it was in the 80s. Likewise as fast as the protagonist's ability to search through hundreds of CCTV camera feeds was, we're already looking to do something similar in the UK, with Leicestershire police forces getting the chance to be the first.

Tell me, Mr Candian, what good is a phone call, if you're unable to speak?

The system they'll be using is NeoFace, which does much of what our half-robot friend did from the latest Paul Verhoeven remake. However, as impressive (worrying) as the NeoFace promotional video is, it doesn't quite do things as automatically as that. As Wired explains, police officers will be able to take an image from a CCTV feed and then enter it into the NeoFace system. This automatically compares it to the police database – the difference being is this doesn't happen to everyone as they walk through the security feed, just the ones police pick out.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPeU0k9qYLo']

Logs are also created for every step of the way, which keeps every action accountable. However as it stands, this sort of “evidence,” can't be used in court, but can only open up new facets of the investigation.

The clever part of the software, is how it can take an image that's pictured from profile or at an odd angle and compare it to head on mugshots, finding the likeness by creating digital representations of a person's full face, from partial captures.

Leicestershire police seem quite excited by the idea of using the system, even  pointing out that those not on a suspect list can be identified by it : “NeoFace can compare someone's image against our complete databases in seconds. Besides the speed it's also impressive because it can even find family members related to the person we're trying to identify,” said a spokesperson for the police's identity unit. 

KitGuru Says: What I'd love to see is some videos of people trying to fool systems like this. Big sunglasses, weird facial makeup and hairstyles can all disrupt this sort of software. I wonder if we'll start to see styles specifically designed to mess with facial recognition become more common place in the future. 

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