One way to hide your face – stack on weight

The Australian politician Joe Hockey has lost a lot of weight in the last year, and now we are able to see the full character and structure in his face. I think he does look a bit older without the chubbiness, but at the same time I think his appearance is now more like a person to be taken seriously. In my opinion the full emergence of Hockey’s facial features from behind a layer of padding highlights an issue that facial recognition technology researchers need to consider – the issue of excess weight or obesity altering facial appearance and making face recognition more difficult (because it makes faces more generic) or more likely to give a false negative (when done across a range of weight gain or weight loss in the same person). These days obesity and also the dramatic loss of large amounts of weight from gastric surgery are more common than ever, so these factors have an increasing impact on face recognition. The visual effect of weight loss on a face is a bit like looking at a coastline at low tide. It might be the same land but it isn’t the same scene.

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