Kinect has problems recognizing dark-skinned users [Update]

This morning Kinect was launched in North America to millions of eager customers, and as reviews are still rolling in on the device, another weird "review" states that Kinect can't properly recognize dark-skinned users, according to Gamespot.

According to the report, Kinect had trouble with the facial recognition with two out of three dark-skinned employees. The system was unable to properly track two of the employees faces, but didn't have any trouble tracking their body movements. Even with repeated calibration attempts, Kinect was unable to properly identity one of the dark-skinned employees.

This doesn't prevent dark-skinned users from playing the system and enjoying the gameplay, but some of these users may need to sign in manually each time to get Kinect started, rather than relying on facial recognition to sign them in.

This wouldn't be the first time that a device had troubles detecting dark-skinned faces, such as HP's webcam had trouble detecting non-caucasion faces. The software algorithm had issues tracking dark-skinned faces, much like the Kinect does.

This minor annoyance with the add-on shouldn't deter people from purchasing the new device, but be cautioned that not all of the features will be available to dark-skinned people. Hopefully Microsoft will release an update or quick fix for the issue in the near future. Don't forget to check out how Kinect works here.

Update: Consumer Reports claims that the initial reports by GameSpot was untrue, and the issue deals with poor lighting. However, until further tests can be performed, it's hard to believe which story is true.

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cameras generally will have an easier time picking up lighter colors better than darker colors. having a well lit area will help this.

when it says "dark-skinned", is that like Wesley Snipes dark or Will Smith dark?

i think they did this on purpose
remember when microsoft accidentely put a black head on a white persons body on one of their websites

sweet5695 said,
i think they did this on purpose
remember when microsoft accidentely put a black head on a white persons body on one of their websites

That was not MS, it was a design agency decision.

This is an issue in general photography with darker subjects. Additional lighting is usually need to capture fetures of a subject with a dark complextion.

One solution I have read about is to use IR LEDs. The camera can use this invisiable light to provide additional light (in composite) to capture features in low light or otherwise hard to distinguish subjects. I'm not sure what the situation or solution would be on Kinect. I'm sure it would add additional cost, and I'm sure they are already biting a big one with the combined price of the state of the art hardware and software.

I have seen webcams implement the IR LEDa and sensor, but have not seen any particular instances of their use in regard to computer vision with facial recognition. I imagine it has been done and if it improves recognition (especially for this senario) it is something MS should have considered in their tests.

Shame it has to come to light like this. It's a little humorous (a head shaker), but still pretty sensative topic. I'm assuming most people are laughing at MS... I hope...

oh, according to the other neowin kinect news, kinect does have an "invisible light source". so there. shouldn't be THAT much of a problem if they use infrarred, though not sure if they use that for the face recognition part

************THE SOLUTION***********
Every Kinect unit should be sold with a a can of white spray paint. Problem solved.

Well jeez.. you'd have thought they'd have tested it on people OTHER than white people This is potentially a major embarrassment..

They should release two Kinect versions for black people and white people with different algorithms and a different box color (black and white).

Julius Caro said,
I wonder what features the thing relies on for facial recognition

I'd guess simple things like the distance of the eyes from each other and the space between the mouth and the nose.

Pupik said,
I'd guess simple things like the distance of the eyes from each other and the space between the mouth and the nose.

Microsoft Research Asia have been doing a lot of work in this space for a lot of years. I would imagine they would have borrowed from those learnings. As a result, I believe your assumption to be an oversimplification of the solution.

And I thought people knew this,Melanin absorbs light so what do you expect.
Pluses: No skin cancer
Age at least 20 years slower then everyone else
Adapts to changing UV radiation conditions, Like the not too distant future when global
warming and UV levels get worse.

Minuses: Poor Kinect facial tracking

Other pluses and minuses
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin


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