3D Printed Fake Masks can Fool Facial Recognition Software and CCTV

3D Printing always seems like a new and outlandish concept, when in reality most 3D printing-related revelations happened around 2014.

Additive manufacturing is the environmentally friendly alternative to mass production and fast fashion. Russia's KFC is launching 3D printed and plant-based chicken nuggets, whilst Iris van Herpen is showcasing her sustainable clothing line at Paris Fashion Week.

3D printing seems like a harmless piece of technology that potentially holds the power to prevent climate change, right?

Well, here’s how it can get messy...


(Giphy shows a 3D printer printing a white figure. Image source Giphy.)

Researchers from an artificial intelligence firm called Kneron have managed to fool some facial recognition systems and CCTV cameras by creating a life-like 3D printed mask.

The study indicated that 3D printed masks could be used to create life-like facial features that resemble another person to bypass security checkpoints.

Tests were carried out across three continents and the 3D printed masks tricked two mobile-payment systems, a Chinese border checkpoint and a passport-control gate in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The researchers gained permission from security guards before carrying out the experiment. The supervision of the guards indicated that humans will still be able to spot a mask even when the facial recognition software fails.

Albert Liu, Kneron CEO, said: "Technology providers should be held accountable if they do not safeguard users to the highest standards,

"There are so many companies involved that it highlights an industry-wide issue with substandard facial recognition tech."

(image shows a male wearing a life-like 3D printed face mask that covers his face. Image source: Twitter.)

Although, countries like Japan have become accustomed to wearing face masks even before the pandemic. The NEC, which is a multinational technology company based in Japan, has been working on a system for people who wear face masks due to their allergies.

The users will upload a photo of their face onto the software in advance.

The system detects whether the user is wearing a mask and hones in on the parts that are not covered up, like the eyes and surrounding areas.

NEC has claimed that verification takes less than one second with an accuracy rate of more than 99.9%.

Similar to the 3D printed experiment, this new software was trialled in places where CCTV and facial recognition software is used.

The results indicate that the system can be used at security gates in office buildings.

Earlier this year, the NEC revealed that they are trialling this new technology for automated payments at an unsupervised convenience store in its Tokyo headquarters.

But what do you think?

Are 3D printed face masks a trend that will end with the pandemic, or will they catch on?

Have your say on our LinkedIn page.

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