Does a Wearing a Face Mask Make You Unrecognizable?

I’ve seen those cheesy romantic movies where two people meet at a masquerade ball (where the masks cover around your eyes and the top of your nose) and then the next morning, they both lament to their BFFs that they never saw their true love’s face. Seriously, you have no idea what they looked like underneath the mask???

This made me think about the current situation. If you are wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth, would the people you see regularly (family or coworkers) be able to recognize you?

There have been studies on the facial features people need to see in order to able to recognize someone, like their eyebrows. Then, I saw this article, (COVID-19 means truckers need facemask-aware driver monitoring systems), and it made me wonder if wearing a face mask makes everyone more anonymous and harder to recognize?

Wearing a mask is definitely a challenge for facial recognition or gaze-tracking software like the one used in the article above to check for distracted or sleepy drivers. I mentioned in last week’s blog how it is easier to fool AI than a person but I wonder how many of us have walked past someone we know because we were both wearing face masks and didn’t recognize each other?

This gave me all kinds of ideas to explore.

What about a fashion designer who is suddenly out of work but finds success in designing face masks for criminals that interferes with security camera imaging?

Or

What if a truck driver is fired because they wore a mask and it interfere with the gaze-tracking software and made it look like they were drunk or sleepy when there weren’t?

Or

What if a pair of twins pull a con on their employer where they make it look like one of the twins is in two places at once? Meanwhile, after the job, the second twin is able to sneak out in plain sight while wearing a mask.

Or

A victim is looking at a lineup of suspects and has them each put on a specific face mask to help identify the attacker?

Who wants to talk more about how you can use this idea in your current or next story?

[Credit: Emilie Lorditch]
E-mail emilie@real2reelscience.com Hours M-F: 5-10pm EDT, EST Weekends: 12-5pm and other times by appointment.
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