Technology.am (Dec. 14, 2009) — Software giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) has admitted that its latest face-tracking webcam has “issues” with black users. The concern attracted international attention this month, when a US guy known as “Black Desi” posted a YouTube video that showed his HP webcam — built in to its most recent computers — refusing to track his face.
According to news.com.au, the webcam was developed to improve live conversations and is believed to track the user in all directions and zoom in and out.
Titled “HP computers are racist”, the YouTube video swiftly enthralled some 500,000 hits and showed Black Desi’s webcam working as it ought to when his work coworker “White Wanda” stepped in front of the camera, but when “Black Desi” got in front, no face recognition took place.
The video, which was component tongue-in-cheek, has sparked international debate in the online community, with websites and forums split among discrediting the clip — claiming it’s a lighting matter or attacking HP for “inherent racism”.
HP is taking the issue critically, admitting there was a difficulty with lighting that they say “other webcams also struggle with.” “We thank Desi, and the people who have seen and commented on his video, for bringing this subject to our attention,” it said in a blog on its help page.
“The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We suppose that the camera might have trouble ‘seeing’ difference in circumstances where there is inadequate forefront lighting,” the blog added.