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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: And the sheep say...
By GaryJohnson on 5/27/2009 11:14:54 AM , Rating: 2
There is a tangible benefit to doing this. Facial recognition systems can be confused by exaggerated expressions. It's not about the large majority of cases where the benefit is negligible. It's about the small minority of cases where the benefit is invaluable.

You can still express yourself in your driver's license photo: just wear a smiley face pin on your shirt collar.


RE: And the sheep say...
By wuZheng on 5/27/2009 11:23:26 AM , Rating: 2
Huh?

quote:
exaggerated expressions


For most of the more advanced algorithms, you'd have to seriously contort your face to confuse them. Then on the other hand, similar facial features could do that as well, so I'm still not seeing where having a straight face benefits the citizens of America in terms of national security...

And remember, my argument is not that you can't "express yourself" so much as it is you've needlessly lost a freedom for extremely marginal or no gain in benefit somewhere else.


RE: And the sheep say...
By grandpope on 5/27/2009 11:51:10 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
For most of the more advanced algorithms


LOL, you DO remember that we are talking about the DMV, right?


RE: And the sheep say...
By Sazar on 5/27/2009 1:42:34 PM , Rating: 5
Why so serious?

Now we know. He had to have his picture taken at the DMV.


RE: And the sheep say...
By Omega215D on 5/28/2009 7:56:42 AM , Rating: 2
Let's put a smile on that face...

=)


RE: And the sheep say...
By tmouse on 5/28/2009 7:41:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


Your credentials are.....?


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