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HP Probes 'Racist' Webcam Claim
Information Week ^ | Dec 22, 2009 | Paul McDougal

Posted on 12/22/2009 12:25:36 PM PST by DCurts

Hewlett-Packard is investigating a claim that Webcams built into its PCs are incapable of tracking the facial movements of black individuals and only function properly when Caucasians or people of other lighter-skinned races are in the frame.

The probe was prompted by a YouTube video in which a black man named Desi demonstrates the problem. The camera, which is designed to follow individuals' head movements, fails to track Desi as he moves in and out of the picture.

But when Desi's white co-worker, Wanda, enters the scene the camera follows her. "As soon as my blackness enters the frame, it stopped," says Desi. "Black Desi gets in there, no face recognition anymore buddy," says Desi.

"I'm going on the record and I'm saying it, Hewlett-Packard computers are racist," adds Desi, who says he's using an HP Media Smart PC.

HP officials posted a blog Sunday indicating that the company is taking the claim seriously and investigating if technical issues are behind the problem.

"Everything we do is focused on ensuring that we provide a high-quality experience for all our customers, who are ethnically diverse and work around the world. That's why when issues surface, we take them seriously and work hard to understand the root causes," said HP social media strategist Tony "Frosty" Welch.

The official implied that HP's Web cams may, indeed, have difficult tracking black individuals' faces.

"The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting," said Welch.

"We are working with our partners to learn more," said Welch.

Beyond a possible political backlash by African Americans, the glitch could also hurt HP sales in some hot emerging markets, such as India, where PC users tend to have skin tones that are darker than those of individuals of European descent.

Still, investors largely shrugged off the news, as HP shares were up 1.1%, to $52.56, in afternoon trading Tuesday.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: blametheman; computers; hp; internet; napl; racism; tortreform; whiteywillpay
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Now even the computers are racist.
1 posted on 12/22/2009 12:25:39 PM PST by DCurts
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To: DCurts

PCs that aren’t PC. Amusing.


2 posted on 12/22/2009 12:27:02 PM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (Conservatives unite behind conservative Republicans in the primaries!)
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To: DCurts

Technology - dat be racis’!

“Tony “Frosty” Welch”

There’s your problem right there - “Frosty” as in “snowman”, as in “white guy”.


3 posted on 12/22/2009 12:27:35 PM PST by MrB (The difference between a humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: DCurts

Before they go any further, HP should first verify that Desi is not a vampire.


4 posted on 12/22/2009 12:29:03 PM PST by Bernard (One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Three if by Government)
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To: DCurts

Just make it an infra-red camera. Problem solved.


5 posted on 12/22/2009 12:29:37 PM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: DCurts
Although not a serious issue of "racism", this is a legitimate functionality issue. Is there a brightness adjustment on the camera or in its software that can correct for this, I wonder?

I, personally, do not like the camera following my head movement; I might like to scratch my nose off camera.

6 posted on 12/22/2009 12:30:02 PM PST by PackerBoy (Just my opinion ....)
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To: DCurts

All the black guy would have to is dust his face with talc...


7 posted on 12/22/2009 12:30:34 PM PST by babygene (Figures don't lie, but liars can figure...)
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To: DCurts

It’s probably just an error in calibration (ie luminescence) or perhaps background (if it’s similar enough to his skin-tone the computer might not be able to differentiate).


8 posted on 12/22/2009 12:30:52 PM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: DCurts

I’m surprised he’s smart enough to use the computer.


9 posted on 12/22/2009 12:30:55 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: ShadowAce

ping


10 posted on 12/22/2009 12:31:34 PM PST by LearnsFromMistakes (Yes, I am happy to see you. But that IS a gun in my pocket.)
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To: DCurts

It makes me wonder if people have difficulty reading the faces of others from dissimilar ethnic or racial backgrounds.


11 posted on 12/22/2009 12:32:59 PM PST by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: driftdiver

I’m surprised he’s smart enough to use the computer.

Ouch - that’ll leave a mark.


12 posted on 12/22/2009 12:33:18 PM PST by equalitybeforethelaw
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To: DCurts

Am I hearing that photons discriminate?


13 posted on 12/22/2009 12:33:29 PM PST by AbeKrieger (Islam is a trojan horse designed to infiltrate and bring down Western civilization.)
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To: DCurts

Of course, if the camera followed black people around the room and left white people alone, Desi would say that camera is even more racist.


14 posted on 12/22/2009 12:33:32 PM PST by The KG9 Kid
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To: DCurts

Maybe if he weren’t the same color as the background he wouldn’t have that problem.?


15 posted on 12/22/2009 12:33:55 PM PST by GeronL
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To: equalitybeforethelaw

I’m sure he would interpret that as racism. Its not, its just commentary on how stupid he is.


16 posted on 12/22/2009 12:35:04 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: DCurts

Maybe the computers are like Senator “Sheets” Byrd (D-KLAN), think they all look the same anyway, so why bother with trying to recognize them?


17 posted on 12/22/2009 12:35:17 PM PST by jessduntno ("The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.")
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To: DCurts; All

And Jesse/Al will descend on Palo Alto to demand reparations in.... 3..... 2..... 1.....


18 posted on 12/22/2009 12:36:27 PM PST by conservativeharleyguy (Democrats: Over 60 million fooled daily!)
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To: DCurts

Please stop this madness.


19 posted on 12/22/2009 12:36:52 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: DCurts

I blame political correctness at the HP testing labs. The folks writing the test scenarios for this hardware were probably too afraid to suggest that there might be skin color specific behavior associated with this device. Don’t want to have to spend another day in sensitivity training!


20 posted on 12/22/2009 12:36:59 PM PST by ConservativeAtLast
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To: DCurts

Simultaneous tracking of image and negative image would be simplest. Make checks payable to UBSOTOS.


21 posted on 12/22/2009 12:40:05 PM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (IN A SMALL TENT WE JUST STAND CLOSER! * IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: DCurts

Built in light for Black people? How would that look? “HP Desktop Cam! Now available with extra light for Black People!”


22 posted on 12/22/2009 12:40:30 PM PST by Dallas59 (No To O -Time is going by really really really really slow.)
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To: DCurts

And just why is this completely idiotic story even being reported!!!???


23 posted on 12/22/2009 12:41:23 PM PST by Walrus (My congressman is toast in 2010 --- how about yours?)
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To: DCurts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4DT3tQqgRM

The video is absolutely hilarious and you can’t blame the black guy at all. The camera clearly doesn’t like him. It’s in mirror mode, if you are wondering about the backwards letters.


24 posted on 12/22/2009 12:41:55 PM PST by ltc8k6
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To: DCurts
Reminds me of my old high-school yearbooks, where the black kids sometimes appeared only as amorphous dark blobs.
25 posted on 12/22/2009 12:43:23 PM PST by ozzymandus
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To: DCurts

problem = HP Webcam doesn’t track blacks as well as whites (noticed by black Desi)

solution1 = recognize you’ve identified a problem to which you can offer a better solution...build/sell the better solution...benefit yourself financially and your fellow blacks who would buy this more black-sensitive/responsive webcam

solution2 = whine about the webcam problem you’ve discovered, insisting that an inanimate object is racist and demand that someone fix it for you

reality = HP shares were up 1.1%


26 posted on 12/22/2009 12:44:09 PM PST by mreerm
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To: MrB
Yo! For Kwanzaa we be havin' Coolie the Coalman!


27 posted on 12/22/2009 12:44:46 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: All

If it followed the black guy around and not the white it would be profiling.

I think the black guy is racist for thinking a computer is racist.....well...actually he’s just an idiot.


28 posted on 12/22/2009 12:46:29 PM PST by texan75010
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To: All

If it followed the black guy around and not the white it would be profiling.

I think the black guy is racist for thinking a computer is racist.....well...actually he’s just an idiot.


29 posted on 12/22/2009 12:46:36 PM PST by texan75010
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To: All

If it followed the black guy around and not the white it would be profiling.

I think the black guy is racist for thinking a computer is racist.....well...actually he’s just an idiot.


30 posted on 12/22/2009 12:46:41 PM PST by texan75010
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To: DCurts
"Can You See Me Now?"


31 posted on 12/22/2009 12:46:44 PM PST by TexasCajun
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To: DCurts
Here's the YouTube video:

HP computers are racist

After seeing the video, which is impressive, it's clear that black Desi is just having some fun with this and doesn't appear to be genuinely offended.

He did find one hell of a good software/firmware bug. Good QA.

32 posted on 12/22/2009 12:47:32 PM PST by The KG9 Kid
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To: DCurts
In most holistic face recognition algorithms, the face needs to be either segmented or surrounded by a simple background. Furthermore, the faces presented to the algorithms need to be roughly frontal and well-illuminated for recognition to remain accurate. This is due to the algorithms' dependence on fundamentally linear or quasi-linear analysis techniques (Fourier, wavelet, Karhunen-Loeve decompositions, etc. are linear transformations). Thus, performance degrades rapidly under 3D orientation changes, non-linear illumination variation and background clutter (i.e. large, non-linear effects).
33 posted on 12/22/2009 12:50:10 PM PST by smokingfrog (Don't mess with the mocking bird! - http://tiny.cc/freepthis)
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To: DCurts

I know everything hasn't been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that it's going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do.

Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

34 posted on 12/22/2009 12:50:52 PM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: DCurts

Flash! Optics/physics found racist! NBC announces it will no longer use cameras for its TV shows!


35 posted on 12/22/2009 12:52:28 PM PST by pabianice
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To: DCurts

I can no longer distinguish reality from satire.


36 posted on 12/22/2009 12:53:09 PM PST by Finalapproach29er (Obama will sink as fast as he rose. Idolatry will not succeed. Be patient, folks...)
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To: Dallas59

“New Improved* HP Desktop Camera!”
.
.
.
.
.
*Now works for Black People Too!


37 posted on 12/22/2009 12:54:41 PM PST by MrB (The difference between a humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: PackerBoy

I don’t like cameras on PCs period. if mine had one, I’d tape it over.


38 posted on 12/22/2009 1:03:24 PM PST by AFreeBird (Going Rogue in 2012)
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To: Bernard
"Before they go any further, HP should first verify that Desi is not a vampire."

For real. You can't swing a dead werewolf without hitting a stinking vampire these days...

39 posted on 12/22/2009 1:03:49 PM PST by libs_kma (If you RAM it down our throats in 2009, we're going to SHOVE it up your "donkey" in 2010!!!!!)
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To: DCurts

They should verify if it has the same effect on dark-masked Islamist terrorists.


40 posted on 12/22/2009 1:06:00 PM PST by rfp1234 (R.I.P. Scotty 7/2007-11/2009.)
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To: Finalapproach29er

Especially since this scenario was used in one of the original episodes of “BETTER OFF TED”.

THEIR SOLUTION: Hire a white guy to walk around with every black guy. (creating new jobs!)


41 posted on 12/22/2009 1:06:11 PM PST by UCANSEE2 (M)
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To: DCurts

His white friend was a woman. How does he know the computer doesn’t just hate men? :)

My theory is the webcam is designed to follow brain wave activity and this idiot wasn’t generating quite enough. :)


42 posted on 12/22/2009 1:09:59 PM PST by Above My Pay Grade ("I don't have a whole lot of mercy for the bad guys, I'm on the good guys' side." -Sarah Palin)
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To: DCurts

Retrofit with 500 watt quartz halogen bulb. Improved camera sensitivity for black people, suntans for white.

Win, win.


43 posted on 12/22/2009 1:13:12 PM PST by dangerdoc
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To: DCurts

I can see now that it will be necessary to amend the laws of physics as regards the characteristics of light. We simply cannot have light waves behaving in a racial way.


44 posted on 12/22/2009 1:15:07 PM PST by davisfh ( Islam is a very serious mental and social illness)
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To: TexasCajun
this couch is racist ,too

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

45 posted on 12/22/2009 1:18:38 PM PST by WOBBLY BOB (ACORN:American Corruption for Obama Right Now)
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To: DCurts

It’s a question of dynamic range. There’s a reason why you don’t see many models with very dark skin. Photographic emulsions (and CCD imaging chips designed to photographic mimic emulsions) don’t have the same dynamic range as the human eye and thus can’t record subtle variations in skin tone in very dark skin. No matter how attractive a dark skinned model might be, if the camera can’t image her skin properly, then she just won’t make it in print work. In this case, the lack of dynamic range means that the facial recognition software won’t function properly. No racism; just physics and photochemistry.


46 posted on 12/22/2009 1:27:01 PM PST by Redcloak ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: WOBBLY BOB

Good to know if any Soldier go into my Grandmothers living rooom, they will be able to hide.


47 posted on 12/22/2009 1:29:11 PM PST by sharkhawk (Always love your country¬óbut never trust your government--Robert Novak)
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To: WOBBLY BOB

Good to know if any Soldier go into my Grandmothers living rooom, they will be able to hide.


48 posted on 12/22/2009 1:29:18 PM PST by sharkhawk (Always love your country¬óbut never trust your government--Robert Novak)
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To: DCurts
Oh, yeah; and "GOD" is racist; he turns the sky black at night ONLY.....

Gimme a break, you racist fools.

49 posted on 12/22/2009 1:30:34 PM PST by traditional1 ("Don't gotsta worry 'bout no mo'gage, don't gotsta worry 'bout no gas; Obama gonna take care o' me!)
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To: traditional1

And God makes it hard to find us nakked white people in snowstorms!


50 posted on 12/22/2009 1:32:47 PM PST by WOBBLY BOB (ACORN:American Corruption for Obama Right Now)
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