HP face tracking 'racism'

Occurred: December 2019

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Hewlett Packard (HP) has been accused of racism after a man complained in a video that its webcam facial tracking software successfully followed a white face to keep it centered, but failed to follow a black face.

The African American man, referred to as 'Desi,' demonstrates on the video how the tracking software would not follow his face but would track that of his white co-worker. 

HP responded by saying it uses 'standard algorithms' to measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose, and that the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast where there is insufficient foreground lighting. 

The video quickly went viral; it has been viewed over 3 million times at the time of writing this article.

In 2010, Gadgetwise reported that the Xbox Kinect failed to recognise the faces of dark-skinned gamers, something Microsoft later attributed to a light sensor which performed poorly in low light conditions.

Operator: Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Developer: Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Detect and follow faces
Technology: Facial tracking; Contrast intensity algorithms
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity

Page info
Type: I ncident
Published: January 2023