No more smiles: Changes come to Colorado driver’s licenses

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DENVER -- If you haven't gotten a new driver's license in a while, be ready for a surprise. New technology is changing the old "smile and say cheese" tradition.

Facial recognition doesn't like a goofy looking smile. So the Department of Motor Vehicles is having people who are getting licenses to take off their glasses and to not smile, all in the name of improved security.

A few weeks ago, the DMV started issuing new-look licenses. What appears to be a black and white picture replaces the old color photo.

“We're hearing from a lot of customers right now, ‘Why is my photo appearing in grayscale instead of color?’ They think that the color photo would help with more facial recognition and actually that's not the case. The grayscale photo actually increases facial recognition,” said Lynn Granger with the Colorado Department of Revenue.

And that means no more saying "cheese."

“’Why can't I smile?’ Because that's what they're requiring now,” Granger said.

New cameras take a photo that enhances specific features on each person’s face. With encrypted information on each license, it makes it nearly impossible to copy. But an unobstructed view is needed, so the glasses have to be taken off and a serious look given.

“I had to take my glasses off and then when I smiled, he asked me not to smile, and that again is to enhance those facial features as they're laser engraved in grayscale on the document,” Granger said.

Facial recognition is the future of global security. Granger said that because the software is proprietary, the DMV can't show how it analyzes a person’s features.

“The color photo does remain on file here at the DMV and then the grayscale photo appears on the actual document itself so when law enforcement officials need to recognize or identify somebody they actually have both,” Granger said.

And it's not costing taxpayers any more money.

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