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

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

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!

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