HP Probes "Racist" Webcam Claims

It seems that HP has to improve its facial recognition technology, as a video of a black man and a white woman posted on YouTube has sparked controversy about the supposedly "racist" nature of the webcams fitted with its newest range of PCs.

It came as quite a surprise to many that the HP webcam didn’t adequately track black people’s faces, while this wasn’t the case with the white people.

The viral video that has attracted a whopping over 100,000 hits on Google-owned YouTube purports the world’s topmost PC manufacturer is shipping “racist” computers.

The webcams fitted with the latest range of HP computers have cutting-edge facial recognition software, which lets webcams follow the users’ faces in case they move around while chatting.

The issue was brought into the limelight by Desi, an Afro-American, along with his white colleague, Wanda. Incidentally, the technology tracked Wanda’s face with ease, whereas it showed tracking issues with Desi.

“I think my blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow me. As you can see the camera is panning to show Wanda's face, it's following her around, but as soon as my blackness enters the frame ... it stops”, Desi says in the video clip.

Our Comments

Acknowledging the issue, HP’s Tony Welch wrote in a blog post that there is a possibility that the camera was experiencing difficulty in “seeing contrast” in the absence of adequate lighting. That could just be a matter of much ado about nothing though.

Related Links

What Racist Webcams? HP Handled Issue Well

(PC World)

Webcam tracker's blindspot now a 'racist' sensation

(The Sydney Morning Herald)

Is facial recognition software discriminatory?

(Msnbc)

Video claims HP webcam only tracks white people

(Geek)

HP webcam only tracks white people?

(Neowin)