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‘Racist’ webcam works fine, you just need to pay a little attention to lighting

You’ve probably seen the YouTube video accusing Hewlett Packard‘s motion-tracking webcams of being racist. Yes, it went viral over the weekend, but HP did a good job of taking immediate actions to Desi Cryer’s complaints.

The technology giant responded in a blog post saying the problem occurs when there isn’t enough light in the foreground.

We are working with our partners to learn more. 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 believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting. While we work on this, take a look here for more information on the impact of lighting on facial tracking software, and how to optimize your webcam experience: http://bit.ly/7HsZHD

The video titled “HP Computers Are Racist” garnered more than 1 million page views and a slew of comments on Twitter. In the said clip, the webcam follows a white woman’s every move (panning, zooming focusing on her face), but as soon as her black coworker appears, the computer completely ignores him.

“I think my blackness is interfering with the computer’s ability to, to follow me,” Desi says on the video. “I’m going on record and I’m saying it: Hewlett Packard computers are racist.”

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