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Thursday 22 August 2019

Crime fear over masks that pass as 'real faces'

Silicone masks are convincing enough to pass as real faces
Silicone masks are convincing enough to pass as real faces

Tom Wilkinson

Sophisticated masks first used in Hollywood films and which now cost as little as €560 are convincing enough to pass as real faces, researchers have found.

The silicone masks have been used in bank robberies and by people taking international flights in disguise, with suspects switching gender, ethnicity and looking decades younger or older within just a few seconds.

The technology was developed by the film industry so Hollywood stars did not have to sit for hours having make-up done, with the masks placed over their heads in seconds.

Research by York University found people were very bad at spotting people wearing one of the "hyper-realistic" masks in photographs, and in real life.

Dr Rob Jenkins, from the Department of Psychology, said: "Only one in 100 viewers mentioned a mask. Even when we told them it could be a mask, most people still thought it was a real face."

Dr Jenkins said masks could trick law enforcement agencies into looking for entirely the wrong person, whereas a robber in a balaclava would have a question mark next to their appearance.

Irish Independent

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