If you’re in the mood for a makeover, you might want to try cutting your hair, buying some new clothes, or maybe testing out a different color of lipstick or blush. Even after making some dramatic changes though, you might not be able to convince everyone that it’s a whole new you. Just ask Nathaniel J. Short and colleagues, who in this work study how cosmetics affect face recognition systems – tools that capture and analyze headshots for identification and security. They find that after applying a good coat of makeup, it is often possible to fool face recognition systems that use standard cameras. This is because makeup causes some obvious changes to facial reflectance in the visible spectrum. Thermal cameras, however, do not detect dramatic changes after makeup is applied. The authors carefully show that even a thick layer of paint will not significantly change the long-wave infrared light intensity emitted by the face. Similar robustness is also demonstrated with a new polarimetric-thermal imaging system also being used for recognition. So the next time you need to go through international airport security, feel free to wear your makeup however you’d like, but just know that those cameras facing you likely won’t be able to tell the difference.
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