Four states adopt ‘no-smiles’ policy for driver’s licenses


Thomas Frank
USA Today
May 26, 2009

Stopping driver’s license fraud is no laughing matter: Four states are ordering people to wipe the grins off their faces in their license photos.

[efoods]“Neutral facial expressions” are required at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia. That means you can’t smile, or smile very much. Other states may follow.

The serious poses are urged by DMVs that have installed high-tech software that compares a new license photo with others that have already been shot. When a new photo seems to match an existing one, the software sends alarms that someone may be trying to assume another driver’s identity.

But there’s a wrinkle in the technology: a person’s grin. Face-recognition software can fail to match two photos of the same person if facial expressions differ in each photo, says Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade.

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