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Researchers: Lack of proper sleep may impair facial recognition

Lack of proper sleep can impact the accuracy of face identification

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  • The study found that poor sleepers were just as confident in their decisions, highlighting possible implications for security and policing
  • Researchers said that while most people would typically expect to perform well on these tasks, many are surprised at how many errors they make
  • Participants were asked to decide whether two images, presented on a computer monitor at the same time, pictured the same person or two different people

Melbourne, October 12, 2016: Lack of proper sleep can impact the accuracy of face identification, researchers have found, suggesting that the crucial “passport task” by officers can be affected by poor sleep.

It is often necessary to identify unfamiliar people by comparing face images: for example a CCTV image to a mugshot, or a passport photograph to a traveller.

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Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and the University of Glasgow in the UK, found that accuracy of these decisions is impaired by poor sleep.

However, the study also found that poor sleepers were just as confident in their decisions, highlighting possible implications for security and policing.

Participants were asked to decide whether two images, presented on a computer monitor at the same time, pictured the same person or two different people.

The researchers set the task to differ from the face recognition tasks most of us encounter in our daily lives in two important ways: firstly, the people pictured in the images are unfamiliar.

Secondly, the task did not involve memory, because the images appear on the screen at the same time.

Researchers said that while most people would typically expect to perform well on these tasks, many are surprised at how many errors they make.

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Previous studies have shown impaired memory for faces following restricted sleep. However, until now it was not known whether lack of sleep impairs performance on face identification tasks that do not rely on recognition memory.

“We found that poor sleep in the three days leading up to the test was associated with poorer performance on the face matching test. In a separate experiment, we also found that participants with insomnia were poorer on the task,” said Louise Beattie, from the the University of Glasgow.

“Sleep disruption is common in the general population, and especially so among night-shift workers,” Beattie said.

“Here we show for the first time that performance in a crucial “passport task” is affected by poor sleep, and our research has important implications for those working in security or forensic settings,” she added.

“This adds to the literature showing poor sleep and shift work to be associated with a range of adverse health, cognitive and emotional effects,” she said.

The researchers said that poor sleep was not only associated with poorer performance, but also with higher levels of confidence in errors.

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“In modern society it is often necessary to identify unfamiliar people by comparing face images. In this study we show that the accuracy of these decisions is impaired in poor sleepers,” said David White, from UNSW.

“Worryingly, although poorer sleep was associated with reduced accuracy, poor sleepers were not less confident in their responses. This has important implications for security and policing, where shift work is common,” said White. (IANS)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?