Passwords are too complicated. Though we'd never compromise our security for financial accounts and other important systems, the fact is it is _ simply too annoying _ to type in a username and password to play video games or submit your math homework. With facial recognition on the rise as a new form of authentication, we felt it was still a rather exclusive feature - often reserved for expensive phones and laptops. We decided to build Cara - the facial recognition platform for everyone.
What it does
Cara is simple - it's a service that offers a drop-in solution for facial authentication. Any app or website can incorporate Cara into their service with ease - all the difficult bits are abstracted away by the robust yet secure technology hiding behind Cara's servers. The idea is to bring the power of this new technology to everyone - from aspiring startups trying to get their products off the ground to freelance developers looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd. In order to prove Cara's widespread applications, we built a series of demos incorporating Cara in different aspects, proving its worth within the family, the education system, and the industry at large.
Dementia and Alzheimer's are terrible to experience - both as the victim and his/her family. Though Cara can't solve major breakthroughs in medical technology, we can help mitigate the memory-related symptoms of these diseases. Cara can be used on AR devices to help patients of dementia or Alzheimer's remember who they're talking to. With the press of a button, Cara will recognize the person in front of you and pull up helpful information about them - such as their name, the last time you've seen them, and where they work. With the power of technology, we can transform the last moments of our elders into memorable experiences rather than painful ones.
"Can anyone tell me who's absent today?" - a common question repeated across the world every morning in thousands of high school classrooms, Cara can solve this too. Using a simple camera setup in front of every classroom doorway, taking attendance manually becomes a relic of the past. As students filter into the classroom, all they have to do to be marked "present" is to tap a screen and wait to be recognized. However, Cara extends beyond simple attendance taking - with a curious mix of psychology and technology, Cara can recognize the emotions permeating a face. In combination with observing facial angles, Cara makes it possible to tell who's paying attention in class - and how they're feeling about it. Teachers can use this feedback to improve their lessons, as well as watch out for under-performing students.
Lastly, we decided to tackle a problem in the industry - the slowness of employee clock systems. Swiping a time-card or scanning a tag is boring - facial recognition is cool. With Cara, these systems can be easily replaced to be quick and painless. Times are automatically logged between clock-ins and clock-outs, ensuring the integrity of both employees and managers.
How we built it
At the core of Cara lies Microsoft's Cognitive Services API, providing quick and secure facial recognition routes. Because no images are ever stored on a server, malicious actors that gain access to Cara's data would only encounter useless strings of letters and numbers that represent faces. Aside from Cognitive Services, our back-end is powered by a single Amazon AWS EC2 instance, while a custom-written hand-made API handles interactions between the user and the authentication services.
Challenges we ran into
One unique issue we encountered was intercommunication between our servers. For some reason, the way the UC network is built disallowed devices from communicating with each other. In order to mitigate this, we decided to move all of our servers to cloud services - dispersing across AWS and Cloud9. On the development side, our seasoned back-end development time found challenges in designing captivating yet concise user interfaces that maintained their look across multiple devices.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As a group of friends first and foremost, our proudest accomplishment at any hackathon is working together as a team to get closer to our goal - succeeding together, but also failing together. More than the prizes, it's about pushing technology to its limits while continuing to foster a learning environment for everyone.
What's next for Cara
We feel Cara has a bright future - as facial recognition makes its appearance in top-end technologies like the iPhone X, it's only a matter of time before it appears in more and more areas. We plan to be there - ushering in a new age of biometric authentication for small businesses, huge corporations, solo developers, and your grandmother.