HP tracking webcams don't recognize Black people

This is messed up.

I want to see more geeky tests done on it though. Is there a certain skin-color line where it stops recognizing faces at a certain darkness? Would it recognize a really really tan white person? Would it recognize a Black person with albinism? Would it recognize fake faces of varying degrees of realism?


3 comments:

massmarrier said...

That goes way back before digital cameras. Look at yearbook pix for terrible examples of gormless shooters who don't know how to expose for variations. I took a college course from a professional photographer who taught us how to meter for African American skin. That was in the South where there were many almost blue-black skin tones that we rarely see up here in Yankeeland. Ansel Adams' Zone System has guidelines and procedures for various skin tones. You'd think HP would have paid attention and incorporated the basics from decades ago. Lord know, alleged white people range from really white through pinks, reds, tans and on and on. Sounds like the webcam is only for the lowest common denominator.

eeka said...

Good point. I hadn't quite connected the two, but sure, I've noticed back in the SLR days as well as my current point-and-shoot-then-adjust-in-Photoshop practice that one needs different color parameters to make people of different skin tones be properly exposed while showing the person's correct skin color. In many photos where I've had people with different skin tones, I've ended up adjusting each person separately, because one setting might make all the dark-skinned people look gorgeous while making the light-skinned people have no contrast or whatnot.

This makes it even more weird that the program was clearly designed by someone who's messed around with cameras, but apparently has never photographed a person of color. Or even regardless, doesn't it seem like it should be pretty obvious to someone with critical thinking skills that if you're programming something to recognize "faces," you'd want to norm it with faces of all colors, ages, sizes, probably a few with skin conditions or missing an eye or something, etc.?

massmarrier said...

Just so. While HP makes an effort at diversity, like much of high tech, it's still pretty white in many areas. I think it's a safe assumption that faces turned out to the programmers to mean faces that look like mine and my friends'. It's very last century.