How Real Is Too Real: Hacking Visual InfoSec with Hyperrealistic Masks


When it comes to masks, dolls, and other human look-alike things, most people tend to go one of two ways. Either, people think they’re incredibly creepy or are amazed by how realistic they are. Let’s be honest here, most of us probably fall into the former category, especially when it comes to dolls.

It’s why, ultimately, CGI often simply falls short when it comes to showing human emotions. Sure, things have gotten much, much better in recent years. However, there is still something distinctly…not human in it all.

Betting on visual for InfoSec?

That may no longer be the case. Watch the following video to find out just what the future of masks looks like. Hyper-realism to the point where it seems almost impossible – that is the work of one mask-making company from Japan.

The masks take a very long time to make and are quite costly, however, the results are pretty amazing (or creepy, depending on how you look at it). Made using resin, plastic, and the hard work of about half a dozen people, the masks attempt to replicate human skin right down to things like wrinkles, spots, moles and more.

The end result requires advanced scan data of the face that’s being re-created in plastic form. These masks aren’t just good for creeping out your family (in fact, that would be quite a pricey prank as these things are over $2.500 a pop), but have actual uses – a Japanese car company ordered one of a sleeping face for example.

The age of hyperrealism

Why? To help test their facial recognition software, a program that is used to check whether the driver has dozed off. According to the CEO and owner of the company, he has also received orders from organizations affiliated with the Saudi government – ones portraying the king and princes.

That’s some pretty high-profile sources that place their faith into these life-like masks. Of course, the REAL-f Co. isn’t the only one to make this type of mask – they’re simply very, very good at it. If you’re wondering why you should care about any of this – take a look at your phone.

If it’s a newer generation, there’s a very good chance it has facial recognition features, possibly even uses it to unlock the screen. Now think about facial recognition in general – it’s used in many places, from ID scanners to courtrooms.

While Real-f Co. makes a point to be selective with clients, it’s likely that sooner or later these types of masks will be available to less-than-savory clientele – in other words, criminals. That this type of mask is now commercially available to just about everyone calls into serious question many of the ‘fool-proof’ security measures we are currently using and consider safe.

There’s more than one way to hack your devices

How safe are they really? Companies like Apple are proud to use their facial recognition feature as a boost to security, but all too soon, the opposite could be true – and what then? A Vietnamese cybersecurity firm named Bkav was able to fool the Face ID feature of the iPhone X…and they didn’t need a mask as fancy as that of REAL-f Co. for it. No, theirs was about $150. Watch the video here:

…And maybe reconsider how secure your phone is.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Chase Elliott Clark.
Source: Kwiyeon Ha (Reuters)

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Melanie Hawthorne
Melanie Hawthorne
Mel is a UK-based journalist that has been writing about tech, science and video games for a few years now. After studying in Vienna, Austria she followed her dreams and moved to London. Said dreams took her through a few different jobs before she settled on what she really wanted to do – write about the exciting world of technology and the delightfully strange things it sometimes produces.
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