Facial recognition can tell the real Santa from photos
For a couple of years now, my son has asked if the various Santas that work in shopping malls in the month before Christmas are the real Santa. Well, now, scientists could answer that for him.
Having nothing better to do in the run-up to the holiday season, researchers at the University of Manchester trained a deep-learning facial-recognition algorithm to discover if Santa has a uniquely recognisable face that is separate from his clothing. Santa impersonators beware!
The researchers used multiple images of Santa that they’d found on the internet and then used the resulting software to determine the difference between Santa and other older men with beards.
“The important thing is that this [algorithm] is only looking at the facial features. It doesn’t care what the individual is wearing or what colours are in the photograph,” said the leader of the research team, Dr Thomas Wright.
By using the facial recognition technology, the researchers found that Santa really does have a distinguishable face from other men with beards. Interestingly, images of Saint Nicolas did not make the cut.
Clearly on a roll, Wright mentioned to The Guardian that “it would also be interesting to explore whether other folklore characters, such as the Tooth Fairy, Robin Hood, and Tom Thumb, had distinct faces.”
Facial recognition technology has been gaining attention this past year. We have heard alarming stories of innocent people being arrested due to flaws in the technology, and of how musicians have called to boycott its use at concerts.
Before we know it, facial recognition will be everywhere, following our every move if it isn’t already. It puts a whole new spin on the popular Holiday song lyrics, “He sees you when you’re sleeping!”
[via the guardian]
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe