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Happy days are over for drivers in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia, which have banned smiles on license photos.  (Source: NY Daily News)

Diana Kim, of Fairfax, Va. isn't smiling as she gets her license -- it's banned in her state.  (Source: USA Today)
Turn that smile upside down

As high-tech licenses become increasingly hard to forge, the Department of Motor Vehicles has found that one popular approach to obtaining fraudulent license is for someone to pose as a friend or colleague in an effort to get an official license.  New high-tech software uses facial recognition to warn officials if the face of the person being licensed matches someone already licensed.

However, there's one problem -- the algorithms often fail if people are making different faces in the two photos.  So four states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia -- are telling drivers to wipe that grin off their face.  No more happy days for licensing, the states have declared, drivers must adopt "neutral facial expressions".

Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade acknowledges that the move is necessary given the poor state of facial recognition technology when it comes to facial expressions.  Researchers still have yet to catch up to the inherent processing capability of the human brain, which can recognize familiar faces in a broad variety of expressions.

Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV says that the smile ban is necessary to "make the comparison process more accurate."

Some citizens who were initially offended are changing their tune, deciding that the rule is in the best interest of national security.  States Elaine Mullen of Great Falls, Va., "It's probably safer from a national-security point of view."

Arkansas, Indiana and Nevada do still allow small smiles.  Currently 31 states in total do computerized matching of driver's license photos, and 3 others are considering it.  Of the 27 other states without anti-smiling policies, many are considering adopting similar measures.  Some states though are resisting the movement.  Pennsylvania Transportation Department spokesman Craig Yetter, states, "People can smile here in Pennsylvania."

Even without a smile-ban, Illinois stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses since 1999, according to Beth Langen, the state head of Drivers Services.

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RE: Self-aware software?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 10:11:46 AM , Rating: 2
If you smile in the first one, then you just have to smile for the rest... Shouldn't the system pick up the facial features as long as you are doing the same time of face... Hence why they say do not smile (so you look the same in each posed photo.)?

RE: Self-aware software?
By acase on 5/27/2009 10:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
the Department of Motor Vehicles has found that one popular approach to obtaining fraudulent license is for someone to pose as a friend or colleague in an effort to get an official license.

It isn't about YOU it's so someone else can't make a different expression and use your name.

RE: Self-aware software?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 10:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
So your smiling face looks the same as others while your straight face looks like no other face??? No, I don't think so. It's about the software recognizing your face, not the expression. That's why I'm wondering if you have the same expression for each photo, why can it not recognize you?

RE: Self-aware software?
By acase on 5/27/2009 11:05:10 AM , Rating: 1
NO! For christ sake. If they do it so it is standardized and you can't smile they can have what you look like on record with no smile. That way, if someone else comes in with your information wanting a new license, when they take the picture it will realize it isn't actually you.

In the same way, if you already have a license (where you weren't allowed to smile), and then you go in with someone else's information and try and get one that maybe says you are 21, it will run your photo with all of them in the system and realize you have a license under a different name.

This couldn't be accomplished if they just told everyone to smile, because each individual person can smile in many different ways.

Get through that time?

RE: Self-aware software?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 11:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
So, twins can be an issue?? :)

OK, that I understood. Thanks.

RE: Self-aware software?
By tmouse on 5/28/2009 8:05:47 AM , Rating: 2
Only identical are a problem , but they impersonate each all of the time anyway. ; )

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