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Handhelds Cellphones United Kingdom Technology

Real-Time, Detailed Face Tracking On a Nokia N900 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-your-head-on-straight dept.
ptresadern writes "Researchers at the University of Manchester this week revealed a detailed face tracker that runs in real-time on the Nokia N900 mobile phone. Unlike existing mobile face trackers (video) that give an approximate position and scale of the face, Manchester's embedded Active Appearance Model accurately tracks a number of landmarks on and around the face such as the eyes, nose, mouth and jawline. The extra level of detail that this provides potentially indicates who the user is, where they are looking and how they are feeling. The face tracker was developed as part of a face- and voice-verification system for controlling access to mobile internet applications such as e-mail, social networking and on-line banking."
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Real-Time, Detailed Face Tracking On a Nokia N900

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:43PM (#33328712)
    I love my N900, it's a shame Nokia doesn't. Still waiting for MeeGo, and to get the best out of my device I've OC'ed it slightly, not to mention transition and touch screen sensitivity tweaks which all make the phone much more usable. What I want to know is why can't they get it right the first time? Since they didn't, how hard would it be to adopt similar tweaks directly into the OS so it doesn't feel so sluggish? It had/has so much potential, but I'm afraid for now, we'll never see it. As soon as Apple releases an iPhone with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, I'm in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KiloByte (825081)

      As soon as Apple releases an iPhone with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, I'm in.

      Why would you bother? That's a completely different class of gear.

      iPhone is a phone with a bunch of toys, N900 is a full sub-notebook with phone capabilities tacked on.
      The former can run just a few random "apps", the latter allows you to install a regular OS with all of its functionality.

      The keyboard is one of significant advantages of N900, but definitely not the main one.
      For one, the research done in this article would be flat out impossible on iPhone due to its closed nature.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        They are two different classes, yes, but the iPhone has a lot of developer focus, the N900 has a few hobbyist developers. Of course you "can" do more for the N900... but only if you want to code it yourself.

        In all honesty, just get a Droid, root it and be done with it. Better hardware and better support than the N900.

        The N900 was a great idea with a terrible implementation, no ability to buy it subsidized in the US at launch from any major carrier, low amount of apps, etc.

        Nokia should have just
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I think you failed to understand what the above poster said.
        • by chammy (1096007) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:38PM (#33329182)

          ... low amount of apps, etc.

          You can install Debian packages on an N900. It's essentially a tiny ARM tablet running Linux.

          • If I want something like an N900, but I don't plan to use it on a cell phone carrier, is the N810 any good?
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by xnpu (963139)
              The N810 is bulkier and a bit behind in software version. There's no obligation to use the N900 with a carrier. I don't. I use it with WiFi exclusively.
            • by maeka (518272)

              re N810:
              You can chroot Debian, but not run it natively. Too many drivers are locked down, so you're pretty much forced to use the shipping OS if you expect all your hardware to work.

              If you want the unrestricted Linux freedom you're come to expect from a PC on a device of that form factor the N900 is 80% there, the N810 is 50% there.

            • by sela (32566) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:16PM (#33329500) Homepage

              If I want something like an N900, but I don't plan to use it on a cell phone carrier, is the N810 any good?

              IMHO, you should still be much better off with an N900. The N810 is already quite old and have a lot of annoying limitations. It got only 128MB of RAM, which is a major limitation. You can easily get out of memory with the N810 if you browse a heavy web site, and multi-tasking is limited as well. In addition, it got a relatively slow CPU, no OS support for GPU accelaration, 2GB internal storage and a limited size of system space for installing apps.
              The N900 got 256MB RAM and 1GB virtual memory (with swap space), faster CPU, 32GB internal storage and up to 2GB for applications.

              The N810 have a larger screen, which can be an advantage in some cases, but it is also bigger and heavier.

              Better go with an N900. You can find used/refurb units for quite cheap prices on ebay.

            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              "There is an app for that!"
              There is an app called "Cellular Modem Control Buttons" which turns off the cell phone circuits.
              Once off you can have the N900 connected to Wifi and use Skype, Browse the web (including YouTube) ... use it as you please :)
              http://maemo.org/downloads/product/Maemo5/cell-modem-ui/ [maemo.org]

            • by beermad (961336)
              The N900 works fine without needing to use the 'phone capabilities. I have no intention (or need) of using it for telephony, I just use it as a pocket computer and it does a good job. The N810 might be a good option; it'll be cheaper, but it's a lot less powerful and the OS is a lot older, so not everything you might want will build for it (for example, I've ported MySQL 5 to the N900 OS, but the N8XX series will only run MySQL 4).
            • by Weezul (52464)

              You'll get a warning message during boot up if your N900 has no SIM card, no other issues arise.

              You could prevent this message by putting in some old SIM card. I'd recommend against that however as you'll probably save cpu time and batteries if the GSM stack does not initialize.

              An N810's only advantage over an N900 is the larger screen, plus maybe you can find one uber cheap on ebay, but really I'd say either buy an N900 or wait for Nokia's first MeeGo device.

            • by tpwch (748980)
              I have an N800 and I think its the best thing I ever bought. I use it for hours every day and have for almost 3 years. I'm just sad that its battery is starting to die and I can't afford to replace it at the moment.

              I don't see why you couldn't get a N900 and just not use the phone feature. Unless you live somewhere where you have to buy a phone plan to buy a phone (read: The U.S., the only country I know where you can't buy all phones separately without a subscription from any phone stores. And even there
              • The U.S., the only country I know where you can't buy all phones separately without a subscription from any phone stores.

                I do in fact live in the United States. I went to NokiaUSA.com, searched for N900, clicked "Buy online", and got "Oops sorry, the page you're looking for isn't available." I walked into a T-Mobile store, asked about Nokia N900, and the salesperson had never heard of it. Is it discontinued?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by GameboyRMH (1153867)

            Anyone who thinks there is a "low amount of apps" for the N900 must be counting the apps in the Ovi Store.

            The Ovi Store is where all the crappy commercial apps are, and there are few. I have 2 apps installed from there. The good apps are in the community repos, and there are MANY.

            Plus there are the Debian packages on top of that.

            • by icsx (1107185)
              Many people are having difficulty due to not having a selectable list where to choose from. The default app lib on the phone is *very* limited and so is Ovi store too. Adding the maemo extras-devel brach into app sources, you get a fine selection of apps that actually run quite ok on the phone.
      • by dnaumov (453672) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:13AM (#33329660)

        As soon as Apple releases an iPhone with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, I'm in.

        Why would you bother? That's a completely different class of gear.

        iPhone is a phone with a bunch of toys, N900 is a full sub-notebook with phone capabilities tacked on.
        The former can run just a few random "apps", the latter allows you to install a regular OS with all of its functionality.

        Are you seriously this delusional?

        1) "A few random apps" = over 250,000. How many apps were there in Maemo repos again?
        2) Who the fuck is going to bother installing a "regular OS" on an N900? Next thing you will be probably suggesting people "work" in commandline on a phone or try to use Abiword on it.

        And this is coming from a person who has owned and used N900 since December.

        • by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:22AM (#33329880)
          250,000 huh?

          Most of the iPhone apps fall under the following categories:
          -small flash-like games
          -videos wrapped in an app api
          -sound boards

          If you are going to count apps like that, then lets add the following to the n900's list
          -*actual* flash games (addictinggames.com, etc all work)
          -built in unix tools (top, etc)

          I'm fairly certain if you compared these now-equivalent lists, you would probably find the n900 has MANY more apps, and that most of them are probably MUCH better written to boot.

          Oh, did I mention you can literally write your own apps in almost ANY language you want without paying $100 for a developers key. You can even distribute your own software repository publicly without paying a fee or asking users to void their warranties.

          Yeah, 250 000 apps sounds kind of pathetic to me...
          • Exactly, most iPhone apps are crappy offline readers for blogs/news sites, social networking clients, crappy little games and such shit. On the N900 these are a small minority. Most apps are truly useful things, not a news reader with a spherical 3D interface.

            And really who could have any use for anywhere near 250K apps? Even if you count all the games I've ever played and all the Linux and Windows CLI apps, It's a very safe guess to say I've used under 10K different programs in my lifetime.

      • >>> Why would you bother? That's a completely different class of gear.

        Different in what way? Both use pretty much the same Cortex A8 processor and share many similar specifications - in that regard both units are just 'sub-notebook' type computers with different operating systems. Your argument would perhaps be better defined as "one has better applications for telephony than the other" - these things could be fixed on the N900 but...

        Most of those tacked on phone capabilities are a half-arsed attem

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Urkki (668283)

          >>> Why would you bother? That's a completely different class of gear.

          Different in what way? Both use pretty much the same Cortex A8 processor and share many similar specifications - in that regard both units are just 'sub-notebook' type computers with different operating systems.

          To put the difference in a nutshell, iPhone is an "embedded device", ie. software and hardware are meant to be inseparable. It is a device with fixed features (of course running approved "apps" and limited (no Flash) browsing of web services are very powerful features). N900 is a PC in the sense that it/Nokia/Maemo does not try to limit what you can do with it. Real limits (as opposed to limits enforced by software only) of the hardware are the only limitation.

          N900 has one software feature: it can run softw

    • by IICV (652597)

      Offtopic I know, but what tweaks are these? If there's a single major downside to the phone it's that the user interface is sluggish.

      • If you OC to 700 or more the UI will run smooth enough to satisfy an Apple fan. At 850 it's blazing fast.

        The stock clock speed isn't too slow though, but the GUI doesn't run silky smooth. I'd like to OC on a regular basis but the power kernel causes a problem with some DD-WRT APs, so I'm at stock speeds for now.

    • by Urkki (668283)

      I love my N900, it's a shame Nokia doesn't. Still waiting for MeeGo, and to get the best out of my device I've OC'ed it slightly, not to mention transition and touch screen sensitivity tweaks which all make the phone much more usable. What I want to know is why can't they get it right the first time? Since they didn't, how hard would it be to adopt similar tweaks directly into the OS so it doesn't feel so sluggish? It had/has so much potential, but I'm afraid for now, we'll never see it. As soon as Apple releases an iPhone with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, I'm in.

      You'll have to wait for N9 (if you haven't check the pics or videos of something that may be N9, google for it!). Hopefully it'll be this year, but I'm not holding my breath, even considering how important it would be to get it to stores before Christmas. There'll be a lot iPads and stuff bought for Christmas, and some of those are permanently lost sales for Nokia, if N9 isn't out and available by then.

      About N900, I've got a feeling, that the desperate(?) need to get N9 ready and out ASAP might have somethi

    • by dwpbike (1833436)
      face tracking? let's move on to ass tracking.
    • Get an Android phone. The G1 has a lovely keyboard, the Droid/Milestone has a decent one and there are some new QWERTYs coming soon.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:44PM (#33328722)

    The extra level of detail that this provides potentially indicates who the user is, where they are looking and how they are feeling.

    Phone: I noticed that you've been watching that blonde over there, and you appear to be sad. Would you like a list of local escort services?

    • by nikomo (1338131)
      Yes please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by giorgist (1208992)
      <quote>

      <quote><p>The extra level of detail that this provides potentially indicates who the user is, where they are looking and how they are feeling.</p></quote>

      <p>Phone: I noticed that you've been watching that blonde over there, and you appear to be sad. Would you like a list of local escort services?</p></quote>

      There's an app for that
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:45PM (#33328730)

    Articles like this make me glad that I bought the n900 because it is the premier development environment for phone based science, unfortunately, the downside is that there aren't very mainstream apps for the n900 (google maps being the most glaring absence).

    • by Lally Singh (3427)

      Check out mappero: http://www.mardy.it/mappero [mardy.it]

      The UI's a little strange, but it treats me reasonably well!

    • by Urkki (668283)

      (google maps being the most glaring absence).

      The web version works quite well though IIRC, at least after you've noticed that you can actually get a mouse cursor on the screen with N900 browser...

  • OpenCV (Score:3, Informative)

    by Haven (34895) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:49PM (#33328756) Homepage Journal

    Those game demos looked a lot like the standard implementation of OpenCV. It's too bad there isn't any security on this technology as merely showing a picture of the person to the camera defeats it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Should be easy enough to add detection to reduce the chances of this occurring. By asking the person to turn their head slowly, you can make sure that the various features move according to a 3-d object rotating as opposed to a flat object rotating. Another paper that I just found suggests checking for blinking. This wouldn't solve holding up the phone to a video display showing a person turning their head or blinking, of course, but it would make it marginally more difficult to spoof. And you should al

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by queazocotal (915608)

      Not quite.
      For example - face recognition plus "now smile" "now frown" - required the attacker to be using some sort of video system.

      Face recognition plus a short list of words that the user has assigned an emotion - for example - the phone
      displays in sequence the words
      Fish (erman drowned) = frown
      Localsportsteam (won) = smile ...

      Or gaze tracking on a virtual keyboard.

    • As already mentioned, getting the user to move their head and checking for the correct 3D effect solves this problem (known as 'liveness detection'). In our case, we actually use combined face and voice recognition where the user needs to answer a question posed by the phone - we can therefore check for the lips moving to make sure it's not a photo. Showing a video could potentially spoof the system (any system is hackable - it's just a question of whether it's worth the effort) but there are almost certain
  • Blacks? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by line-bundle (235965) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:29PM (#33328920) Homepage Journal

    How well do they work with black people? These have been issues in other face recognition systems.

  • Gut reaction.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:45PM (#33328976)

    controlling access to mobile internet applications such as e-mail, social networking and on-line banking.

    First one kinda iffy.. second one makes sense.. third one, no way in hell!

    It's the old convenience vs. security argument. Personally for things like my money, I'm willing to go the extra mile and enter a password (or some kind of one time code if only my bank offered it).

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you have access to someone's email account you generally have access to every single other account they have anywhere...

      • by dbcad7 (771464)
        Yes a lot of people do some very stupid things, like use the same password for multiple accounts. Using the same username and password for your email, bank, and every other place you visit may be easy.. but it's also easy for the bad guys too.. Banking in particular is one account that should not have a username or password used on any other accounts..
    • by Chelmet (1273754)
      But.. A password, then face verification? Facebook et al. I'd be happy with face only, ditto with emails, but for the banking stuff it'd be great to have both. As you enter the password, the face recognition does it's business. I'd even love this on the unlocking screen (when the phone goes into keylock due to idleness). My N900 is great, but when someone says "what can it do that my phone can't?", I'm usually at a loss to demonstrate. I know its capable of lots of cool stuff, but currently its shining glor
      • I log into my laptop with ssh, then remotely run cheese (remote-X) and check out my webcam from another floor. A really fun trick is to install mpd on the laptop, then watch the webcam until someone starts trying to mess with it and start playing a self-destruct audio file using mpc (or ncmpcpp, etc). My favorite is a star-trek recording with the start of a countdown :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nemyst (1383049)
      Who doesn't want to make weird faces to their phone to enter a password for their bank?
    • I actually agree - the recognition will need to prove its worth before I put my bank account in its hands. This is, however, a long-term goal and the reality is we'll get there mostly with baby steps. In the short-term, it'd be a piece of cake to capture an image of your face as you're entering your password as an additional (rather than substitute) level of security. Other obvious ethical issues include where and how your biometric 'fingerprint' is stored - on the phone (don't lose it) or a central databas
  • Viola-Jones? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by airfoobar (1853132)
    Can't find any detailed info, but from looking at their demo, I'll guess they are probably using the Viola-Jones method, possibly with a "tree" cascade to detect face angles. The last time I checked, libopencv provided most of the tools to build such as a system, as well as pre-trained detectors for individual face features. Not much invention going on here, but possibly some innovation -- I'd be interested to see more info, if anyone knows where to find it.
    • by hannson (1369413)
      They're using active appearance models [manchester.ac.uk] that (AFAICT) work quite differently from the Viola-Jones method.

      There's also an open source C++ implementation. [imm.dtu.dk]
      • Ah, cheers. You are right, this is a very different approach than VJ. When I posted that comment I was actually looking at the YouTube video linked in the /. article that is definitely using VJ -- why is there a completely unrelated video linked in the article?!?

        Anyway, I remember I did some work with Active Shape Models many many years ago, though we were trying to fit a 3d face model on the image instead of a 2d template -- much harder (and painfully slow with the computers we had in those days).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by straponego (521991)
      Bah. I won't trust it until they use Voight-Kampff.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Steve Mitchell (3457)

      Active Appearance Models work by creating a deformable model of appearance built by combining a point distribution model with a texture model using principal component analysis (PCA). Basically what that means you take a bunch of faces, located landmark points like the corners of eyes, apex of the chin, etc., create an average face and use PCA to statistically model the variations. Next you morph the faces together from their original landmark points to average face, and do a PCA on the pixel values. This c

  • The extra level of detail that this provides potentially indicates who the user is, where they are looking and how they are feeling. The face tracker was developed as part of a face- and voice-verification system for controlling access to mobile internet applications such as e-mail, social networking and on-line banking.

    We're sorry, but we do not recognise the sad face with which you view your bank account. Please try again when you are more happy.

  • What Repository? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackpig (1112913) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:58AM (#33329824)
    Where can I find this?

    exras-testing or extras-devel ?

    Surely it's not in the Ovi Store?
    ;-)
  • Can it be fooled with a photo though? this is the whole problem with using face recognition alone for security.

    It really needs to do more than just look at the front of your face.

    Two cameras would be better, 3D image. Although even that could be fooled with a 3D model of someone's face. If gaining access to a famous person's bank account you could steal a waxwork dummy head and use that, okay a bit far fetched but if the stakes were high?

    Let's not forget the scene in Demolition Man where Simon Phoenix needs

  • If you look close at the video during the '360 rotation' segment you'll see the tracking dot for the guy's chin on top of the video camera lens and after that on top of his finger. Does it actually track that part of the face or does it merely deduce the presence of a chin in that region from the position of the eyes?

    • Spot on - it models the whole face in one go rather than each feature independently. So as long as most of the face is visible it will guess the positions of the bits it can't see based on the bits it can. The more face gets hidden, however, the worse this guess gets. For most practical purposes you can assume that there's a clear line of sight between the camera and the face.
  • ...N900 has other functions that some other phones do not have, like face recognition and flash.

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