Hybrid Human Faces Could Populate Google Street View

July 30, 2008 by Lisa Zyga, Phys.org weblog
Face swapping
From left to right: the original photo, a photo selected for swapping certain features, and the resulting hybrid.

Due to privacy concerns, Google has been blurring the faces of people caught on Google Street View cameras. But rather than blurring people's faces and diminishing the reality of the scene, researchers have demonstrated a new way to automatically depersonalize the faces - by creating hybrids.

The new face-swapping technology, developed by Neeraj Kumar and colleagues at Columbia University in New York, finds faces in a photograph and swaps their features with those from a library of faces, such as picture-sharing sites like Flickr.com. Their software then automatically chooses one or more suitable faces for swapping the eyes, nose, and mouth out of the original image, resulting in a facial composite.

As a final step, to weed out inferior replacements, the system ranks the resulting images according to how well the hybrid face fits the surrounding region in the original photograph, and chooses the highest ranked replacement for insertion.

Unlike other programs, the new technique is fully automatic, and generates plausible results across a variety of lighting conditions, viewpoints, and skin tones. The researchers performed a case study in which they asked participants to identify real and fake faces from a set. They found that people are almost equally likely to classify real facial images and the hybrid facial images as being real. Of 12 people tested, 58% of the hybrid face images were misidentified as real, and 75% of real images were correctly marked real.

Besides de-identifying faces, the same technology could be used by photographers for creating an optimal group photograph from several similar shots. As the researchers explain, the "burst" mode found on most cameras can take several images at once. Then, an automatic face replacement technique could be applied to swap blinking or frowning faces with better faces taken from the other images. The result would be a single composite image with all the best faces.

More information on the researchers´ face-swapping technique can be found at tinyurl.com/6ehog5.

via: New Scientist

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6 comments

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x646d63
not rated yet Jul 30, 2008
Does this mean I can slightly alter Tiger Woods' appearance and use that "hybrid" to advertise my new golf software?

That would be much cheaper than having to pay Tiger.

Some interesting legal battles on the horizon.
SmartK8
not rated yet Jul 30, 2008
Well.. now they just have to ensure that those hybrid pictures won't look like anyone in existance.
DoctorKnowledge
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2008
Right. A picture 75 feet outside of my place clearly shows my neighbor, taking her usual constitutional. Her clothes, her gait, her posture. Changing her face will conceal her identity? Nope.

This is a corporate ploy to reduce the amount of impact to themselves.
GaryB
not rated yet Jul 30, 2008
This scheme won't work because of what they are not looking at. The Google face detector seems to have many false positives all over the scene, slightly blurring car tires, bricks in a wall etc. Now this scheme will put phantom faces there.
Actually, that might look pretty cool as face like textures take on faces.
brant
not rated yet Jul 30, 2008
The babe with the mustache and earrings is a hotty..
KB6
not rated yet Jul 31, 2008
Conan O'Brien has been doing this for years with his celebrity "if they mate" shtick.

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