Tom Cruise in Minority Report

It knows your face!

I remember going to see Minority Report when I was in high school. The movie was lacklustre, but one thing stuck out in my mind – the custom advertisements that reacted to Tom Cruise’s eyes.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

For those of you who don’t remember or skipped the movie, the premise was this: advertisements (or billboards in this case) would scan Tom Cruise’s eyes as he walked by to identify them. After identification, these ads would give custom recommendations to our hero based on his data and previous purchases.

Futurist real time data at its finest.

However, headlines in recent weeks have been covering stories that seem like they could have be ripped straight from this dis-utopian world.

Real time data and facial recognition are no longer science fiction- they have become science fact.

What is it?

An individual’s face can be as unique as a fingerprint. It might even be more reliable, as a face won’t smug or streak on surfaces.

Every face has numerous, unique features. There are the surface identifiers, like scars or skin tone, but there are also deeper, structural landmarks. These include:

  • Distance between the eyes
  • Width of the nose
  • Depth of the eye sockets
  • The shape of the cheekbones
  • The length of the jaw line

Most of us can recognize our friends and family by a quick glance at their faces. It happens so quickly most of us don’t even think about it. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for the sake of length we’re going to skip them for now).

What Facial Recognition technology does is try to give that ability to a computer or algorithm.

Beginnings

As with most innovations we discuss on this blog, this isn’t a new idea.

It began in the mid 1960s. Scientists began to work on using computers to recognize human faces. Since those first tentative steps, the technology has come a long way.

Until recently, facial recognition software used a 2D image database to identify individuals.

Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk

For this to work, the subject needed to be looking directly at the camera. There could be little variance in light or facial expression between the database image, and the one that was being identified.

Obviously, very few pictures met this strict criteria, so facial recognition failed more often than it succeeded.

But technology never truly remains stagnate, and that’s doubly so in the digital revolution.

Facial recognition technology just made the leap from 2D to 3D. New software uses a 3D model, which allows for much looser criteria when comparing photos.

Image courtesy of Smithsonian.com

3D software uses the distinctive features of a face – the eyes, nose, and bone structure – to identify the subject.

Instead of relying on lighting or expression, this new technology relies on the structure of the face itself. It makes the software more reliable and infallible.

Robocop?

Although these police divisions are not being led by Tom Cruise, law enforcement agencies the world over are using this technology to their advantage.

FBI

Take the FBI for example. They have just finished developing the Next Generation Identification System.

This system is now fully operational and is being used.

The FBI announced two services last fall that completed the system.

  • Rap Back allows officials to receive “ongoing status notifications” about reported criminal history of people “in positions of trust, such as schoolteachers.”
  • Interstate Photo System. This is the big one. This is a facial-recognition program that allows law-enforcement to cross-reference photographic images with criminal databases in real time.

In short, the Interstate Photo System lets the FBI use facial recognition.

Privacy groups don’t like The Next Generation Identification system for obvious reasons. They have repeated time and time again that this system ignores privacy laws.

They claim the lack of oversight raises serious civil liberty and privacy concerns.

Also, This system is largely untested. A report from 2010 found that the Interstate Photo System could potentially fail one in every five times it was used. That could lead to a lot of false positives. As it stands, that is a rate of failure higher than traditional fingerprinting – smudges and all.

Dubai

Dubai is another example of facial recognition being used by law enforcement. That Dubai is using this highly experimental technology should come as so surprise – this is a culture where the police use top of the line sports cars to keep up with the rich population.

Reports indicate  they have moved one step closer to achieving real time facial recognition by adding it to Google Glass.

Did I mention that the Dubai police department will get to use Google Glass? I hope they don’t have to buy their own uniforms!

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According to a Dubai Police representative,  this software allows police to identify criminal’s faces and alert the detective through the glasses.

This initiative will be rolled out in two phases.

  • In the first phase, the technology will be used to fight traffic violations and any other vehicular offences.
  • In the second phase, the police Detectives will get a chance to use the wearable’s in their day to day crime solving business.

The New York City police department is also testing this. They began using Google Glass at the beginning of 2014, but have not yet posted the results of their tests.

Science fiction or  science fact?

This technology has far reaching implications as well. It is becoming present in many different companies – not just law enforcement. Check out some of the ways that this technology is being used by businesses right now!

Mastercard

Mastercard claims it has completed a “successful” facial recognition payments trial.

Mastercard tested a beta mobile app on over 140 000 transactions. These tests involved Mastercard employees from around the world using both iOS and Android devices.

 

Barcelona

Every laugh at the Teatrenu comedy club in Barcelona will cost you 0.30 euros, with a price cap of 24 euros.

Stand-up idea: A comedy club in Barcelona is betting you can't, and it is even basing its ticket prices on how often comedians can make its audience laugh

That’s right! Facial recognotion is being used to charger perlaugh at this comedy club. The software is installed on the back of the seat in front of the customer.

The project was developed to combat falling audience numbers.

Partnering with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the experiment was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drops in audience numbers.

The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre.

The system was so successful, it is now being copied in other theatres around Spain.

A number of people have tried, and reportedly failed, to sit through a comedy show without laughing in an attempt to get a free ticket.

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Job Tips

#JobTips: You’re #coverletter is important! It is the first thing a potential employer sees. Make sure it’s perfect!

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P4Capital Round Table – JP Morgan

P4Capital is beginning a series of Podcasts and interviews featuring our executive team, who will be discussing pressing concerns for the Canadian financial industry.

Today is our first round table discussion. The topic – JP Morgan.

Transcript

(more…)

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Augmented Reality and Our Reality

A few weeks ago I went to the local Cineplex to watch a movie. The name of the film I saw is eluding me (must not have been that good), but the walk up to the theatre and back again stuck in my mind.

 

As I walked towards the ticket booth, I noticed several screens sporting animated photographers looking at their cameras and talking amongst themselves. Then, as I walked passed them, they snapped to life and started trying to snap my photo, begging me to strike a pose.

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A few more steps to a second screen revealed the purpose of this nice ego boost.

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It’s an advertisement for the Cineplex Magazine. You can go up to one of these screens and let one of these many photographers take your photo. A few more seconds, and the picture will be put on a digital cover of the magazine and emailed to your inbox. Of course, ads and promotions about the magazine are included in the package.

That’s right – coming soon to a theatre near you; augmented reality!

Augmented Reality

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Plain ordinary reality is boring. At least, that’s what the providers of augmented reality products want you to believe. And really, who wouldn’t want to have access to the games and information that this medium claims to have?

When you think about it, dating app Tinder is really just a piece of augmented reality as well.

Augmented reality products aren’t restricted just to entertainment or the social scope. Many companies and brands are jumping on to this bandwagon as well. If advertisements can entice people to watch them out of enjoyment, rather than necessity well, branding would be a piece of cake!

With smartphones becoming so popular and affordable in the last few years, augmented reality campaigns have become a very effective way for brands to do just that.

Unlike conventional forms of advertisements, augmented reality ads allow consumers a high level of interaction with the brand.

Check this Ikea example out.  People could place Ikea furniture in their own homes using an augmented reality App. No assembly required.

Still, augmented reality advertisements are difficult to master. There are many examples of companies just missing the mark with this new form of innovation.  Moreover, these apps can be difficult to use. and they are hard to develop. Even small errors lead to lack of quality and coordination.

But when they work, they work well.

Advertising and branding opportunities not with standing, how does augmented reality change how we entertain ourselves, and how we live our daily lives?

Not New

Let’s look at the history first.

This technology is not new.

It was first alluded to in 1901. Then, in 1968, the first augmented reality headset was invented by Ivan Sutherland.

It probably isn’t something you’d want to wear. Called the Sword of Damocles, this head mounted display system was suspended from the ceiling while the viewer experienced computer fed graphics.

Image courtesy of Mashable

For creating this horrifying looking device,  Sutherland is commonly referred to as the “Father of Graphics.”

Since then, the technology advanced very slowly until it bloomed in the 2000s. In the new millennium,  the technology began receiving more attention as a way to, quite literally, change the way people see and experience the world around them. In the past few years, augmented reality has come to play a major role in the tech field, especially when it comes to mobile technology.

Even print ads have augmented reality components with those lovely QR codes. Want to see more? Scan the image with your phone to make it come alive.

There have been amazing advances in AR technology in the last 14 years. So what’s coming in the next few?

Out of touch with reality? New augmented reality tools coming our way.

Let’s look at some technologies that are coming our way

Roomalive

For those of you familar with Star Trek, the first item might sounds familar.

Microsoft is developing augmented reality technology that transforms an entire room.

Using projectors and depth cameras, players can dodge and interact with content displayed within the room. It’s an extensive set-up using projectors and Kinect units.

Roomalive doesn’t focus on a single wall. It uses several projectors to cover an entire room. There is software built in to it to detect surfaces, where they are and how they relate to the floor in the room. So don’t worry about tripping over that table.

Of course, there are tools for developers to build their own content.

Unfortunately it is just a prototype for now. There has been no mention of commercial availability, so it could be a while yet before we’re exploring space with the crew of the Enterprise.

 

FlexSense

This next bit of technology sounds like something out of Minority Report or Avatar.

Microsoft has again taken Science Fiction and made it into reality. Named FlexSense, it is a flexible smart surface that connects to mobile devices and is, essentially, a transparent digital piece of paper.

According to Techcrunch, this technology is based on printed piezoelectric sensors that can detect deformation of the plastic sheet and translate it to software without the need for cameras or any kind of external tracking.

Which, as far as I can translate, means it is a digital piece of paper.

The Microsoft team hopes that FlexSense will connect with existing technology and Apps to perform 2.5D interactive tasks.

Time Traveller 

Want to see what a place looked like a hundred years ago? A company called Timetraveler Augmented recently announced the Timetraveler application.

It uses Augmented Reality on smartphones and tablets to view historical content about locations near where they used to stand.  Content includes historical film footage, reconstructions of demolished sites, and stories about the impact on the location.

Right now it is only working around the Berlin wall, but they hope to expand it to other locations shortly.

LAYAR even added the ability to show a superimposed Berlin Wall as far back as 2010!

It looks like it might only be available in the German iTunes store right now, however Google Play seems to have the link available regardless of location. There are free and paid versions of the app.

NoAd

We’re all sick of advertisements, but NoAd is trying to bring a little culture back to our rotting brains.

Based in New York right now, specifically the subway lines, it is digitally replacing all of the ads with artwork.

The free app  is simple to use. Just launch it and, using the device’s camera, position it over an ad. Onscreen, you can see the physical billboard transform into a digital static or animated artwork – turning your wait for a subway train to arrive into a cultural experience. No Ad has collaborated with 50 artists, but it is planning to expand that on a month to month basis.

The app won’t work if an ad has been altered or there’s graffiti on it – which, as the app’s creators see it, has become a form of artwork on their own. And as of now, the app will only work on the “100 most popular horizontal subway platform advertisements…often for movies, TV shows, and popular products.” The app will also not work if there’s a single, dominant advertiser, or if the ads have not yet been catalogued in its system.

So, looking at all this Augmented Reality technology coming our way, I only have one thing to say.

Make it so  Make it so

 

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What to put in your email to a Recruiter?

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Recruiters receive 100’s of emailed requests and resumes every day. Not only are they working on current positions, they are also trying to form relationships for future endeavors.
Applying for a Current Position:
The most  important thing a recruiter needs is up to date information.  This is where the email becomes very important.  You want to grab them right away.  Keep your email short and sweet.  A one line introduction  with the following information:

  • Availability.  If they are looking for a contractor to start immediately, then put that in the email.
    • two weeks notice
    • immediately
    • current contract ending mm/dd/yy
  • Location:  If your home is in Markham and the position is in Mississauga, be sure to say:
    • willing to commute
    • willing to relocate (especially if the position is out of province)
    • or put in a specific location, ie downtown Toronto
  • Salary:  Give them a range.  Most positions advertised have a salary on them, if this is acceptable to you then put it in the email.
The next thing you want to focus on are the keywords in the resume that relate to education and skills:
  • Education:  Tell them you have a degree from Waterloo or you are a “Sun Certified Java Developer”, etc
  • Technical Skills:  5 years experience working with IBM WebSphere in a Windows environment
  • Management Skills:  10 years leading teams developing ……using …..

Then again a 1 line closing sentence.  “I can be reached at ………  Thank you for your time”

So remember:
  • 1 short introductory sentence
  • 6 bullets briefly detailing the information that makes you qualified for a specific position
  • 1 short closing sentence.

Future Possibilities

If you are sending your resume to a recruiter for future possibilities, then use the same format as above, but instead of your skills detailing specific keywords in the advertisement, put down your strongest qualifications and/or the skills you would like to be working on more.  Another key item the recruiter would like to know is if you are looking at permanent or contract positions or both.
ifyouhaventfoundityet
 

happyfacehanddrawn Good luck job hunting

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Lynne Carlson started her career off in administration, moved to Cobol Programming and for the last 14 years worked in all things recruitment.  Absolutely loves social media and excited about all the new innovations appearing every day!