Face-scanning cameras could pick out drunks

Face-scanning cameras could pick out drunks
New video software may be able to tell if someone is intoxicated, by scanning their face(Photo: Shutterstock)
New video software may be able to tell if someone is intoxicated, by scanning their face(Photo: Shutterstock)
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New video software may be able to tell if someone is intoxicated, by scanning their face(Photo: Shutterstock)
New video software may be able to tell if someone is intoxicated, by scanning their face(Photo: Shutterstock)

People who are inebriated in public places (such as airliners or malls) can definitely create problems. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to tell if someone really is under the influence. Instead of making every “jolly”-looking person take a breathalyzer test, Greek researchers are suggesting something less intrusive – video software that can spot drunks by analyzing their faces.

The software, which is currently being developed at the University of Patras, works in two ways.

First, it measures pixel values at specific points on the face. These points are some of the locations at which blood vessels beneath the skin dilate when alcohol has been consumed. This causes the skin to color in those places. When the software subsequently compares an individual’s facial coloration against a database of facial images of both inebriated and sober people, it can apparently determine whether or not that person is drunk – with reasonable accuracy.

Second, it utilizes thermal imaging technology to gauge the temperature of an individual’s nose and forehead. When people are inebriated, apparently, their noses get warm while their foreheads remain relatively cool. An algorithm within the software allows it to locate these facial features when presented with an image of a person’s face.

The researchers believe that by combining the two approaches, the software could be used to reliably identify intoxicated people in public spaces, so that they could be dealt with before trouble occurs.

Source: Inderscience

Two Replies
Ohhhh I get it. So profiling is okay, just so long as only robots do it.
A few drinkers cause problems so all drinkers must be punished and now we have a machine to find them at a distance.
Is the point to find drunk people or to find people causing trouble. If it is sometimes difficult to identify if someone is drunk then does it matter? Is it hard to identify trouble makers? That's what you need to do but I don't think you need fancy technology to do that, because they are making trouble. A person who has been drinking can sit on a park bench peacefully watching the world go by, why harass them? This is why I hate people.
Oddly enough I've just been interviewed for a security role in a shopping mall in the UK.
People who are actively causing problems should be asked to leave- but I think that mall security has real work dealing with actual problems rather than alienating people who may have had a 'liquid lunch'- who may not actually be causing any bother. If they were reeling drunk the that would be another matter entirely.
So let's get things into perspective- if I get the job I don't want to have to turn into a 'little Hitler' just because of some over-intrusive video software flags up a problem that may not actually be a problem. CCTV is a valuable tool but the human operator (and his colleague on the floor) should be the ones discriminating between actual issues or otherwise, not some piece of electronic equipment.
In George Orwell's 1984 there was a State crime called Facecrime. At the London Olympics, a Mark Worsfold was thrown off a 7 foot wall, and questioned for 5 hours at a biking event. His crime? It seemed that he was not enjoying himself, therefore, he might be up to no good.
So now, in the brave new world we can look forward to, the potential for many new applications other than inebriation monitoring. ( In some places, say, New Orleans, this could pick out the few sober people... ) If someone dislikes what he or she sees, will the forehead get warmer, the nose colder? Eye dilation and movement, not in a happy sort of way? "Are you being hateful? Are you lying? Why so serious? Come with us." Time for a nip...
Nathan Koch
Tending bar in some places means that you can be held legally liable for serving a drink to someone who is intoxicated. So, I can see a legitimate use for this software. I can also see problems with using it (e.g. it's dark in the bar).
What does the software qualify as inebriated? Could it be used as a useful tool in preventing drunk driving if installed in cars?
I get the worries and the possibility of abusive use, but I also see possible legal and justifiable uses for such things.
"If you don't drink, all your stories suck and end with, "...and then I went home.""
I know an easy way around this. Snort some cocaine. It will make the blood vessels in your nose constrict. That should cool down your nose and make it more similar to your forehead.
Alternatively, you could wear a hat, or makeup, or maybe put some cold water on your face.
Let the fun continue!
Joseph Monroe
Hilarious. We need software to tell us someone is drunk?