HP probes 'racist' webcams

Facial tracking stalks whites, ignores blacks

By Lester Haines • Get more from this author

Posted in Bootnotes, 22nd December 2009 11:07 GMT

Hewlett Packard is looking into claims that some of its TouchSmart webcams demonstrate an unwillingness to interface with black people.

Tony Welch, described by PCWorld as "lead social media strategist for HP's Personal Systems Group", explained in a blog post over the weekend: "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 that the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting."

He added: "While we work on this, take a look here for more information on the impact of lighting on facial tracking software, and how to optimize your webcam experience."

The upshot of it is that if those of low-contrast racial origin can't adjust the lighting conditions to suit HP's discriminating tech, then they'll just have to "select Disable zoom or Manual zoom instead".
IT Register