Facial recognition is all the rage. Issues ranging from being the most accurate security system in the world to being the paragon of privacy invasion have been thrown its way. In all likelihood, that argument is never going to be settled in this decade. So, while the world goes gaga over the morality and technicalities of facial recognition another technology might offer a more immediate solution to simple problems.

While others are looking up there, a team from Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany decided to look down there for a way to identify people that are interacting with touch-based computers. Bootstrapper is designed to identify a person using his or her footwear via several cameras with higher depth of field or Kinect cameras. Once a person starts using the table-top computer, the cameras read the size, shape, and design of the shoes and match it with stored profiles of different users. In case there are one or more people using the computer, the system will also read the hand orientation to avoid any errors.

Of course it doesn’t come close to the accuracy of facial recognition. If two people wear the same style, color and size of a Chuck Taylor pair, you are bound to get an inaccurate response. However, you will be happy to know that it is never intended to be a security system. It can be used by schools to track the progress and activities of students or employees in their offices.

The Hasso Plattner Institute is scheduled to present the technology and unveil more information at the CHI 2012 Conference that is slated to be held in Texas.

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