In the last 10 months, masks have become a regular accessory in our lives due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Many manufacturers have come up with different designs, going away from the conventional concept of masks. While masks have become a necessity to stave off infection and pollution, a Japanese entrepreneur has gone one step further to create a super-realistic face mask that is a replica of someone else's face that can beat facial recognition.
Developed by a store in Tokyo, Kamenya Omote, the 3D-printed masks were part of the store's "That Face" project. The mask is intended to be a "cool" face covering, but its real-life application cannot be overlooked. As the U.S., China and other countries are looking to use facial-recognition software to identify criminals and protesters, a fake face (that's what Omote mask essentially offers) could be the best way to beat the system.
To begin with, the store owner 3D-printed his own face and sold out all the masks. Now, he is seeking to buy "faces" to turn them into masks, obviously if you are willing. The store owner is ready to pay 40,000 yen or $380 to the willing participants. "We will buy and sell your faces. A science-fiction story has now become reality. No one yet knows what will happen to a world full of the same faces as you," the store said in a statement.
The masks are uncanny, to be honest, and as you can see from the pictures, it essentially is a copy-paste of the face. Even the face irregularities such as moles have been captured in the 3D-printed version with an incredible level of details. Each individual hair including stubble, beard and mustache could be seen.
As facial recognition software checks for distinct features on a face and matches it to the image in its database, the super-realistic face mask can beat the software. However, the risk is that the software will match the real owner of the face instead of the one it is looking for. The only problem with such a realistic mask is that actual criminals could misuse it.
Beating the system aside, to have your face as a mask, you have to submit images of your face but currently, the application to "commercialize" your face is limited to Tokyo residents. The willing participants will have to submit his/her name, contact number, images to the company email ID. All of the details will be kept confidential. Then, a face will be selected through a lottery process. The masks are made to be 105 percent of the face so that it can fit anyone.
"'The Real Face' is a super-real mask created based on photographs and 3D data. In other words, you can also make such a mask from your face," the owner said.
However, the 3D-printed mask is not meant for COVID-19 protection as it does not come with any air filter. Apart from that, it is not cheap either. As it hasn't yet been mass-produced, each face mask costs 78,000 yen or $748. The company said that the aim was to create the product at a lower cost in the future. If it can do so, such a mask could feature regularly in protests. The store also sells other masks that can be worn at costume parties and Halloween. Other weird masks look straight from Hollywood movies.
"Since this is a completely made-to-order product, it cost a lot of money to make it. By paying the cost of the first production at Kamenya Omote, we are now able to offer this mask at a lower cost. We are ready to make a lot of the same faces," the company said in the statement.