Smile! You’re on camera — or you were at some point in the past few years — and now your face is public domain.

Facial recognition technology is everywhere, and only becoming more pervasive. It’s marketed as a security feature by companies like Apple and Google to prevent strangers from unlocking your iPhone or front door.

It’s also used by government agencies like police departments. More than half of adult Americans’ faces are logged in police databases, according to a study by Georgetown researchers. Facial recognition technology is used by governments across the globe to identify and track dissidents, and has been deployed by police against Hong Kong protesters.

To push back, privacy-focused designers, academics, and activists have designed wearable accessories and clothes meant to thwart facial recognition tech.

Read more: How police are using technology like drones and facial recognition to track people across the US

Facial recognition software uses artificial intelligence to detect faces or human figures in real-time. But that software is fallible — clothing can “dazzle” the software with misleading shapes that stop the AI from knowing what it’s looking at. Other designs confuse AI with images of decoy faces, preventing it from making the right identification.

These designs are still niche, and have mostly only appeared as art installations or academic projects. But as facial recognition becomes more widespread, they may catch on as the next trend in functional fashion. 

Here are the ingenious, bizarre designs meant to outsmart facial recognition tech.



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