Japanese Retailers and Hyper realistic face masks

Author : Viknesh Ravichandran


What is hyper-realistic face mask?

Hyper-realistic face masks are made up of flexible silicone material which are designed to imitate real human features with details as minute as freckles and wrinkles. Deepfakes may seem like an internet plague, but so-called "hyperreal" masks have fooled people in real-life and have even been used in crimes. These masks are incredibly detailed, complete with hair, freckles and wrinkles. They cover the head and chest of the wearer, and include holes for the eyes and mouth which blend seamlessly with the wearer’s skin to create a lifelike appearance.



Can a hyper-realistic face mask protect us from virus?

This huge demand for masks led to several similar innovations in the mask manufacturing. A Japanese retailer has come up with a new take on the theme of facial camouflage, a hyper-realistic mask that models a stranger's features in three dimensions. Shuhei Okawara's masks won't protect you or others against the virus. But they will lend you the exact appearance of an unidentified Japanese adult whose features has been printed onto them.


Who is the retailer who sells hyper-realistic face mask in Japan?

Shuhei Okawara, 30, owner of mask shop Kamenya Omote, wears a face mask based on a real person's face. The masks will go on sale early next year for 98,000 yen (Rs 69,832) a piece at his Tokyo shop, whose products are popular as accessories for parties and theatrical performance.

In 2014, Shuhei Okawara opened Mask shop OMOTE, the first Japanese mask shop specialized in masks created by contemporary artists. He is the organizer of Tokyo Mask Festival, the largest mask fair in Japan, and a vital character in the Japanese mask world. His workshops are popular among corporations and educational institutes who seek creative insight in his classes of masks and physical improvisation. His products are popular as accessories for parties and theatrical performance.

Mask shop OMOTE deals exclusively in masks. In Japanese, “OMOTE” can mean “face” or “mask” or “surface.” They stock a wide variety of masks, particularly of contemporary Japanese mask makers but also from many periods and regions. Customers will assured to find their favourite mask here. They also sell online so the customers can have it delivered right to their door!


Does really Hyper-realistic face mask have impact?

In this study by the Universities of York and Kyoto, researchers asked participants to look at pairs of photographs; one of a normal face and one who is wearing a hyper-realistic face mask. Participants were asked to indicate which of the two they thought to be the mask, with easily-detectable low-realism masks used as controls.

Surprisingly, participants got it wrong in one in five cases.

In studies such as these, limiting viewing duration is standard practice when a task may otherwise be too simple. To assess whether this may have been a limiting factor, the authors repeated the experiment with a new cohort and no time limit. For high-realism masks, responses were slower (1100 ms) and one in five participants incorrectly judged the real face to be the mask (20%).


Possible Negative Outcomes of hyper-realistic face mask

According to researchers, the above mentioned error rate likely underestimates the extent to which people may struggle to discern the difference when tested outside a lab setting, in everyday situations. In the research, it was made clear to viewers that their task was to identify the mask in each pair of images. Example masks were shown before the test began. In a real-life situation, the error rate would likely be much higher than in our study as hyper-realistic masks are extremely rare and many people may not know they exist. Failure to detect synthetic faces may also have important implications for security and crime prevention as hyper-realistic masks may allow the key characteristics of a persons’ appearance to be incorrectly identified. These masks currently cost around £1000 each and we expect them to become more widely used as advances in manufacturing make them more affordable.”


Reference:

https://www.lse.ac.uk/PBS/News/Some-hyper-realistic-face-masks-more-believable-than-human-faces

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