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High concept attempts to hide from CCTV

These days CCTV cameras are an integral part of the modern environment, and very few people can deny the important role they play in keeping people and property secure. Even so, this ubiquity has led to unease, with many concerned about a lack of transparency over just who is keeping watch over the footage. Recent advances in technology has pushed this debate forward again, with video analytics software letting authorities automatically identify individuals when their faces are captured on CCTV. Internet-enabled wearable devices such as Google glass even have the potential to bring this kind of ability to the man on the street. It’s no surprise then, that it’s no longer just nefarious individuals who are looking into ways to hide from CCTV cameras. Some enterprising individuals have been looking into it…


Hong Kong based artist collective Urban Armor have been devising and sharing playful solutions for problems women often face in the urban environment, including scarves that automatically shroud your face when confronted by cigarette smoke, and expanding “personal space” dresses. One of their recent designs is “Miss-my-face”, a fetching DIY hat and veil combo with integrated LED IR illuminators. When activated by the wearer, these brightly light up their face, rendering them an obscured bright blur on any CCTV cameras viewing them. Igeniously, the IR LEDs can’t be seen by the naked eye, so the disguise only works to hide the wearer from CCTV, not from face to face interactions with other people on the street. By the designer’s own admission their works are “not…viable solutions for societal problems”, but who’s to say LED strips won’t be an integral fashion in the coming decade. Of course it’s worth mentioning that a camera with good highlight compensation such as Sony’s EFFIO range should overcome this…

Headshot of a model wearing dazzle camoflage makeup
The CV Dazzle project aims to use makeup styling to hide the wearer’s features from facial recognition software

Perhaps a more style-concious would be that of Adam Harvey, creative mind behind the “CV Dazzle” project. Inspired by so-called dazzle camouflage- where potential targets such as battleships were painted with glaring stripes in order to obscure their actual outline- the project uses the technique to develop makeup and hair styles that obscure you from facial recognition software. The suggested bold shading and…unique…hairstyles are designed to block the areas of the face that software uses as a reference, whilst still leaving you recognisable to a human. In this way the makeup in’t so much to disguise your indentity from others, but to prevent software from automatically accessing your personal information by recognising your features.

Of course, outside of these more high concept methods, the criminal fraternity has spent decades perfecting the best way to conceal themselves. These have included

Police photos of two criminals with marker pen on their faces
Pictured: Criminal genius


*Disclaimer- this has been included for comedy reasons….please do not attempt to put a plastic bag over your head

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