Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

Summary: It's not smart to rely on your face to protect children from smut.

SHARE:

Lenovo is to launch a TV built on the Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' platform. One of the cool features that this TV will offer is a parental control mechanism that relies on facial recognition. This is a feature that the kids will love ... because it is a snap to circumvent!

GigaOM has the spec of the K91 'Smart TV':

  • The K91 is powered by Qualcomm’s 8060 Snapdragon processor, which clocks 1.5 Ghz.
  • It will have 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage and 2 GB SD card.
  • There will be two models, one with a 42” and one with a 50” 3-D LED screen.
  • It will have an integrated 5 MP webcam, which will be used for facial recognition. Why would you need that? Parental control, of course.
  • There will be a 3-axis gyro gamepad, but the regular remote control sounds pretty cool, too: It will have a touchpad as well as an integrated microphone, and voice recognition will make it possible to control the devices without pressing any buttons at all.

Good TV, but I have severe reservations about Android's ability to use facial recognition properly to control parental controls. Why? Because the system has already been shown to be broken.

One of the new features of Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' was being able to use the camera (and your face) to unlock the handset. Problem is, the camera has a hard time telling the difference between your face and and a photo of your face.

And in case you think that video might have been faked in some way, Dwight Silverman over on TechBlog tried this out and found that the system is easy to fool:

I took a picture of myself with my iPhone, and then pulled that likeness up on the screen. I aimed the iPhone image at the Galaxy Nexus’ camera, and voila! The Android phone unlocked and I was granted access. This works every time I try it.

So, if your kids see you using your face to unlock the parental control mechanism, how long do you think it will take them to try the photo trick? I would say that a smart kid will think of trying this as within seconds of seeing you use it for the first time.

If you have dumb kids ... well, it might take them a few minutes to figure it out!

CES 2012: See CNET’s news and product coverage

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, Lenovo, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

6 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

    Yes, I have to agree. I even bought a 3rd party Android parental control at http://www.parentalcontrolapps.com/android and it was discovered. That was actually my fault for not following the instructions....
    wildmanner
  • RE: Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

    I remember reading something about them working on that part, but i could be wrong. I already have an app called Visidon Applock which uses facial recognition that you can do the same thing with on the free version. If you get the paid version it has a feature called "Liveness detection" which would prevent being able to use a photo of the person to unlock. I would prefer this app anyway since the lock can be applied to settings, applications, and the lock screen (lock screen is on the paid version though).
    SpiderTech
    • RE: Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

      @SpiderTech Greener at 2012 CES. E-reader is charging free from now on. Awesome innovation award winner, www.solarmio.com
      sreeseche
  • Think of the children!

    Forgot to mention that the processor is dual-core. Just an oversight, I'm sure.
    symbolset
  • True of all parental control, not just facial

    Let's face it, people who visit ZDNet (and by that, I mean techies) are the minority. In general, a child will know more about technology than the adult, and it won't take them too long to figure out how to bypass that parental control.
    Aerowind
  • RE: Kids won't have any problems outwitting the parental controls on your Android Smart TV

    Thanks Adrian. I always enjoy your articles. I agree, if you want to feel confident about your programming settings on the TV, you want better authentication. At CES this week, Sensible Vision is demonstrating FastAccess Anywhere ??? for mobile. Using patent pending technology, we have optimized it to recognize faces in real-world mobile conditions. Our tech is highly resistant to photo and video of an enrolled person???s face. sensiblevision.com/faa
    kimberleymb