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Boffins develop way of spotting flashers

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Hitech software to keep everything in your pants
Boffins fed up with people getting their kit off on chat sites have developed a new algorithm that will allow sites to nip the nudity in the bud.

Video chat services such as Chatroulette which randomly link the webcams of people who visit the site have been doing well but it has been plagued by people who want to show their genitals. Of course these are usually sad gits, but the cry has gone up “what about the children” who need to be protected from the sight of other people's genitals.

Now Xinyu Xing at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a few pals have come up with a "flasher detection" algorithm that spots the offenders, allowing them to be kicked out. Spotting flashers is harder than it might appear particularly when you have 20,000 users on the site at any time.

Another approach is to use existing algorithms designed to detect pornographic content. Exactly how these algorithms work isn't entirely clear, but they appear to look for skin content in images. But this does not work very well because videos are often poorly lit making it hard to distinguish skin from yellowy-white walls in the background.

Xing and his chums have come up with a new algorithm, called SafevChat. It analyses the images using several different criteria and then fuses the results before deciding whether the image is acceptable or not.

One of the tricks is to see that the skin is moving. It uses face, eye and nose detectors to distinguish facial from non-facial skin.Chatroulette began using it on its website earlier this month.

There will probably be those who feel that the lack of genitals on the site make it suffer a bit.


Last modified on 20 January 2011
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