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This cool new tool could make you invisible to webcams – here’s how

A new AI-powered browser could turn you into a ghost in your own home, making users invisible to prying webcams.

Jason Mayes, a Google Web Engineer here in the UK, shared his Disappearing-People tool on YouTube last week.

Disappearing-People uses Javascript and TensorFlow to create an AI solution to strangers spying on you through your computer. The programme uses Google’s neural network to separate the static background from moving people in real-time, creating the illusion that no-one is there.

Related: The best VPNs to protect your privacy

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The tool isn’t perfect. When Mayes moves closer to the camera, you can see pieces of hair and at one point his arm appears floating above the bed. The video playing on the laptop is a bit of a giveaway too – when Mayes steps in front of the laptop, the video freezes and doesn’t continue playing until he moves out of the way.

However, while it may be clear to a hackers that something is up, that won’t change the fact that the owner of the webcam is hidden from its nosy viewers.

While Disappearing-People will probably feel like overkill for anyone happy covering their webcam with a strip of tape, the tool would actually be pretty useful for applications where tape gets in the way of style or is constantly in danger of peeling off, like on a smartphone camera.

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The tool could also present a much-needed solution for oft-hacked home security cameras, especially if the neural network could learn to recognise and erase familiar faces without losing sight of strangers and intruders.

If you’re interested in trying Disappearing-People out for yourself, you can download the tool from GitHub now. While the results might not be perfect, they should improve as Google’s neural network gets smarter.

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