It happened the moment your stepped on to the bus. The second you walked into the shop. As you passed the local garage on the way back home. Your face has already been captured on camera tens of times today — usually without you knowing it.
But with facial recognition tech on the rise, camera aren’t just taking a record of your image. They’re using what they find to identify your age, sex, or mood. Identification systems are online and running in transport hubs, on the streets, and even in shopping centres.
But Polish designer Ewa Nowak is already coining her own form of resistance to high-tech surveillance, creating a futuristic brass face mask that disrupts how facial recognition works.
“Cameras are able to [...] precisely match us to the database. The concept of disappearing in the crowd is simply ceasing to exist,” says Nowak, who leads the NOMA design studio together with Jarek Markowicz. She tested the mask’s design by using the DeepFace algorithm favoured by companies such as Facebook. Contoured to the shape of the face, the mask blocks and disrupts how the camera picks up certain facial features.
“Incognito aims to protect your image from facial recognition algorithms used in modern cameras,” Nowak told the The Calvert Journal. “The design was based on one drawing in my sketchbook. Thanks to the size and position of the mask and its detailing, the algorithms that recognise individual faces don’t read it correctly.”