• A new study reveals how Chinese facial recognition terminals are easily fooled
  • Kneron conducted experiments to see if a 3D mask could fool the facial recognition terminals of AliPay and WeChat
  • However, the study has some limitations

Nowadays, we view facial recognition as a more secure way to confirm a person’s identity on a device or at payment terminals. Features like Face ID on handsets appear like, that technology is really far more reliable than other alternatives. However, recent research reveals that the technology is far from infallible as Chinese facial recognition terminals highlight a significant shortcoming in what is known as a more effective security tool.

Kneron, an Artifical Intelligence (AI) firm, recently shared a video to The Verge showing tests it conducted at various facial recognition terminals in China. The company asked the tech site to publish the video, which convincingly shows how easy it was to fool Chinese facial recognition terminals. In a video, you can see a couple of scenarios where a tester approaches WeChat and AliPay terminals at establishments in China while wearing a 3D mask of his face, the reports state.

Surprisingly, the facial recognition system identifies the 3D mask on the tester’s face, thereby allowing the purchase. In another scenario, the same tester shows his ID card in the turnstile of a train station while wearing a 3D mask. The facial recognition system of the turnstile easily accepts the mask as his face; the site continues.

Facial Recognition Bill
A new research reveals how Chinese facial recognition terminals are easily fooled by a tester wearing a 3D mask. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

While the videos clearly show how easily the tester fooled the facial recognition terminals using the 3D mask, there are some limitations to this type of test, the report claims. We only saw one person in the footage attempting to fool the terminals using a 3D mask. It is unclear whether that single mask worked in each attempt or if another mask also accomplished the same for these kinds of tests.

Additionally, the video reveals that both terminals required the tester to key in digits of the phone number linked to the identity. In the train station, a physical ID card must be present before the facial recognition terminal commences the scan, the report adds. Moreover, when a person wears a mask while paying his purchases, will no one stop that person and ask him to remove his mask?

Apple Face ID had undergone direct 3D masks tests before its official release in Sept. 2017. The Cupertino tech juggernaut shared that it worked with professional mask makers to train the neural networks utilized by Face ID. Apple might have used different algorithms and components for facial recognition of its devices compared to the terminals that Kneron tested.

The video also highlights that some facial recognition systems are easily fooled with just a mask. It only means that facial technology has a long, long way to go before we can fully trust it to be as secure as it promised to be.