Strutting around in dog-printed pants as loud as a neon Sunset Boulevard billboard might get you noticed by L.A. fashionistas, but such apparel—according to its Italian label—will protect your privacy and trick certain forms of unwanted surveillance.
Milan-based company Cap_able claims that its clothing textures are designed by artificial intelligence algorithms to create patterns—known as “adversarial patches”—that can confuse facial recognition software, registering whoever is wearing the designs as the giraffe, a zebra, a dog, or one of the other animals embedded into the pattern. Or not at all.
“In a world where data is the new oil, Cap_able addresses the issue of privacy, opening the discussion on the importance of protection from the misuse of biometric recognition cameras: a problem that has become increasingly present in our daily lives, involving citizens around the world, and that, if neglected, could freeze the rights of the individual including freedom of expression, association, and free movement in public spaces,” the company states on its website.
But if that sounds to you like a Star Trek episode, experts agree.
Tom Smith, a retired NYPD detective assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a unit that took him into hot zones all over the world where AI surveillance is a constant and critical tool, scoffed at the idea of beating Big Brother with $400 Milanese pants and a $500 hoodie with animal prints.
“There is so much technology out there to beat surveillance, there are things changing daily. You might be able to beat it, at least until there is a better surveillance system—which will be rolled out about an hour from now,” said Smith, who now runs the private security company TNR Investigations in New York City. “I remember when wise guys tried to wear Kevlar jogging suits and perps wrapped themselves up in tinfoil to fool metal detectors. It might work for a minute, but not for long.”
The company, however, appears to suggest that the effectiveness of its insanely expensive spywear was not the point. According to its website, it merely sought to “open a debate on issues of our present that will shape our future.”
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