Since they first developed it in the 50s, CCTV (closed circuit television) has become a ubiquitous spectacle in cities around the world.
According to a report by industrial researcher IHS markit in 2019, they are now there 1 billion video surveillance cameras in the world. Today, however, CCTV can do something other than just video recording. It has a new thing called artificial intelligence, with human detection and facial recognition algorithms that can track what we do and how we feel.
To protect people from this pervasive control, a German design company (Werteloberfell) has made clothes that can interfere with video surveillance AI. The first prototype is called "Ignotum", which means "unknown".
The genesis of Ignotum
To create ignotum, the team first had to understand how video surveillance systems with artificial intelligence work. Werteloberfell explains: “Normally these systems work in a three-step process: to start, the AI cuts the image into small pieces and analyzes them. He decides if he recognizes what is in the image: if he recognizes it, he draws a skeleton around the object (or person) to better track its movements. In the case of people, then, the HD images of the faces are sent to a server for analysis. "
After figuring out how the game works, the guys from Werteloberfell rigged their AI video surveillance camera system to find out which models wouldn't be detected. Eventually, the team found that a light grid worked best at confusing the computer, indicating only "33% person".
Done the tests, duped the video surveillance
The prototype was made using the tailor's shop, the 3d printing and electronics with fabric bonding. The final design uses light guides printed on a poncho fabric. A simple, versatile style and above all ridiculous, but the end justifies the means (a "Prince" said it).
The poncho consists of three layers. The first layer is the upper one, which gives stability to the garment. The technical layer includes circuits, textile cables and LEDs. It is covered by an ad layer moiré effect (now I look like Enzo Miccio) for an additional optical illusion effect.
A new fashion manifesto
Ignotum wants to raise awareness on the use (and abuse) of artificial intelligence in video surveillance. Millions and millions of such systems are capable of “stealing” information such as gender, age, emotional state and sexual preferences from us every day, some of which with very high accuracy. Information that, of course (especially in terms of sales) can be used against us.
We don't like this development. It is not good for us to be seen by these technologies. Our design will allow the wearer to decide when he wants to be seen by them.Werteloberfell
Before you ask me where to buy this hilarious overcoat, please know that Ignotum is not a commercial project. It arises from a loan (and from a EU program) to explore the technologies of "defense" from this type of video surveillance (or maybe, one day, it will be used to disable these defenses: who can say?). Sometimes fate is mocking.