UPDATE: Consumer Reports says it has been unable to reproduce the ‘racist’ bug. The facial recognition doesn’t always work in poor lighting conditions, but CR couldn’t find a situation in which skin tone mattered.EARLIER: The facial recognition system in Microsoft‘s brand new Kinect has trouble with dark-skinned faces, according to several GameSpot employees.
GameSpot employees testing out the Kinect found that the system had no trouble with white faces, but that some — though not all — darker-skinned faces gave the system trouble.
It’s unclear how widespread a problem this will be, but it would be a huge embarrassment if this is more than a very rare occurrence. Microsoft is hoping to ship 5 million Kinect units by the end of the year.
Facial recognition software relies on contrast, so it makes sense that some skin tones might be more difficult to read than others. This video of a “racist” HP computer with a similar problem created a stir a few months back (although Consumer Reports was unable to reproduce this bug either):