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Face Recognition and Verification Using Photometric Stereo: The Photoface Database and a Comprehensive Evaluation

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Publication details

JournalInformation Forensics and Security, IEEE Transactions on
DatePublished - Jan 2013
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)121-135
Original languageEnglish


This paper presents a new database suitable for both 2-D and 3-D face recognition based on photometric stereo (PS): the Photoface database. The database was collected using a custom-made four-source PS device designed to enable data capture with minimal interaction necessary from the subjects. The device, which automatically detects the presence of a subject using ultrasound, was placed at the entrance to a busy workplace and captured 1839 sessions of face images with natural pose and expression. This meant that the acquired data is more realistic for everyday use than existing databases and is, therefore, an invaluable test bed for state-of-the-art recognition algorithms. The paper also presents experiments of various face recognition and verification algorithms using the albedo, surface normals, and recovered depth maps. Finally, we have conducted experiments in order to demonstrate how different methods in the pipeline of PS (i.e., normal field computation and depth map reconstruction) affect recognition and verification performance. These experiments help to 1) demonstrate the usefulness of PS, and our device in particular, for minimal-interaction face recognition, and 2) highlight the optimal reconstruction and recognition algorithms for use with natural-expression PS data. The database can be downloaded from

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