HP's face-tracking webcams aren't 'racist' (VIDEO)

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Webcams aren’t usually accused of holding biases. But after one consumer took to YouTube to criticize HP’s Deluxe Webcam, the Internet buzz began.

Hewlett Packard’s new camera includes innovative face-tracking technology, which follows a user’s face – even if it moves out of frame, or zooms in when the user is farther away.

This technology wasn’t working for one African-American consumer – the webcam didn’t move at all for him. But for his white co-worker, who was right next to him at the time, the face-tracking feature worked perfectly.

And so the man, identified as “Desi” in the video, had a message for one of the largest technology companies in the world: “Hewlett Packard computers are racist,” he says.

The webcam along with the YouTube video prompted a blog post response from HP:

“We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose.”

“Desi’s” online complaint has attracted hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

TheGrio went out and purchased an HP Deluxe Webcam to see if “Desi’s” claims were accurate. When our staff sat in front of the face-tracking camera, it responded effectively to people of all shades and colors.

The difference between our results and “Desi’s” may all be attributed to lighting – a factor HP points to in their statement.

“We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting,” their blog post said.

If users have problems with their face-tracking webcam, they can contact HP directly – or they can always go to YouTube.

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter at @rantoddj