In Soviet Russia, Doorbell Rings You

We can imagine that the origin of the doorbell is truly ancient. if you lived in a cave, you probably had a stick and a rock nearby for people to get your attention without invading your cave. In 1817 a Scot named William Murdoch had a bell in the house that visitors rang via a compressed air system, but the electric doorbell had to wait until 1831. Since then, little has changed with the basic idea. [Erientes] — who lives in the Netherlands, not Russia — wanted a smarter doorbell. In particular, he’s read about older people being victimized by people who ring the doorbell for entry. So [Erientes] used a Raspberry Pi to make a doorbell that supports facial recognition.

The exercise is really more of an operations challenge than a technical one thanks to a high-quality Python library for face recognition powered by DLib. However, we did like the user interface aimed at non-technical users. The metaphor is a traffic light in which a red light means do not allow entry. The lights are buttons, so you can use them to whitelist or blacklist a particular person.

We could see this being coupled with a keypad to make a two-factor access control system. To unlock the door, you have to present your face and enter a code number. While it is true that the facial recognition system isn’t perfect, the chances that someone would learn your code and be able to duplicate your face well enough to fool the algorithm seems pretty slim.

If you want to play with the facial recognition online, you won’t need to install any software. That’s a great use of Jupyter. As for fooling facial recognition, maybe this project needs a bit more work.

11 thoughts on “In Soviet Russia, Doorbell Rings You

  1. Aren’t you mixing your metaphors, there? If I hit the red button to blacklist someone and the green button to whitelist them, then a) what does the yellow button do (no, I didn’t watch the video), and b) doesn’t this cause cognitive dissonance, when you say “black” when looking at something red, and “white” when looking at something green? (it does for me.) And where do these terms, whitelisting and blacklisting come from, anyway? From a white light and a black light? It just doesn’t seem right. I’m so confused.

  2. My concerns with two-factor authentication aren’t so much about false positives as they are with false negatives.
    I once owned a car that had an expensive radio. I bought the car used, and the previous owner neglected to turn over the documentation for the radio that included the secret code for reactivating it. So the next time I had to disconnect the battery for some reason, I permanently lost the use of the radio. So the question I had was, how effective is a security system, when it deprives me of a service just as thoroughly as a bad actor, in theory, could? I’ve never had a radio stolen out of any car that I’ve owned, but I lost all access a fancy radio to the security system, which to me is just as bad.

    Big “waah”, because I hardly even listen to the radio in the car, but if I’m just trying to get into my house, the consequences of being locked out because I just didn’t look like myself that day, to me seem to outweigh the added security of two-factor identification, especially when you combine that with less reliable identification (i.e., false negatives), from the second factor system. How much less likely am I to get robbed, vs. how much MORE likely am I to be deprived of shelter for some period, when it’s -10degC outside?

    1. – Totally agree. 2FA has it’s place, but it can also be a pain in the arse. Guess you have to weigh the false negative to false positive risks. If I once in a blue moon try to log into a gmail account at a random PC (following a lab demo I’ve run into this), and then my phone happens to be dead to provide means of 2FA, it’s a pain in the butt. But if someone gains access to your email, and has access to ‘forgot password’ reset most any sites you have accounts on from there, it’s a huge negative/risk. Worth the hassle on my email, not so much for home access for me. And agreed, the radio enable code is ridiculous. – Almost wonder if there weren’t some motives involved to try to get non-original owners to a dealership ‘in the name of security’…

    2. It’s a brilliant example of causing problems you wish to avoid.

      But radio codes are typically comparatively cheap to recover service typically sells for peanuts on eBay.

      The missed irony is that you likely have never suffered a stolen radio in part because they aren’t worth stealing in the age of radio codes.

      Next time hook up a 9v to your cigarette lighter or make sure to get the radio code from sellers!

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