Hewlett-Packard has responded to claims that its webcam technology does not recognize dark skin. On December 10, a video posted on YouTube that showed the webcam failing to recognize a black man but successfully tracking a white woman. The man featured in the video says:
I'm going on record and saying Hewlett-Packard computers are racist...I welcome responses as to why the HP webcam does not pick up 'Negroes.'
On Sunday, HP responded to the video in its "The Next Bench" blog with an entry called "Customer Feedback is Important to Us."
Everything we do is focused on ensuring that we provide a high-quality experience for all our customers, who are ethnically diverse and live and work around the world. That's why when issues surface, we take them seriously and work hard to understand the root causes.
Some of you may have seen or heard of a YouTube video in which the facial-tracking software didn't work for a customer. We thank Desi, and the people who have seen and commented on his video, for bringing this subject to our attention.
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. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.
The YouTube video currently has more than 370,000 views.