For as long as the human race has been around, we have possessed the ability to differentiate between the faces of friends and strangers. Only recently have computers learned artificial intelligence which includes applications of Facial Recognition. In simplest terms, facial recognition technology uses a camera to pinpoint facial features and create a map of the person’s face. The data gathered can then be analyzed against pre-recorded facial images in a database to identify the person in question.
It measures such variables as the distance between the eyes, the width of the nose and the length of the jawline. Amazingly, most facial recognition software can perform this process in under 2 seconds.
This is all very exciting but how did we get here?
When was facial recognition first used?
The true origins of the simplest facial recognition technology can be dated back to the early 1800s. Following the invention of the camera, it was almost immediately used as a method for law enforcement to record images of criminals to identify multiple time offenders (a popular use of facial recognition to this day).
The research conducted for facial recognition technology as we know it today can be credited to American mathematician Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe. He was among the pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence and pattern recognition technology. Along with a talented team, he undertook his projects in Palo Alto, California in the mid-1960s. (Source)
They had created a simple device which required the manual recording of facial features using a stylus and a tablet. The results of this study created a base for the future of facial recognition technology. In the 1980s and 1990s, studies by scientists in Brown University, Rhode Island and MIT, Massachusetts led to the innovation of Eigenfaces.
In a rapport that doesn’t require years of study in mathematics and technology, Eigenfaces are 2D facial structures generated by using algebraic methods. This was one of the first breakthroughs in automated facial recognition.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, in the USA, the questions of “Who are our enemies?” and “What do they look like?” were on everyone’s mind. This instigated the desire for intelligence agencies from around the world to incorporate biometrics into their systems and structures.
Biometric data was being collected all over the world especially by military personnel in possibly high-threat nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Forward a couple of years and so begins the commercialization of facial recognition technology.
You can see it in your local police stations, your smartphones, and your advertising. Facial data is constantly being collected as digital camera technology evolves. Now, it is a $5 billion industry and its uses are ever increasing.
Current Applications of Facial Recognition Technology
Security and Defense
By far the most popular applications of facial recognition technology has been for personal as well as public security by law enforcement agencies. Personal security includes gaining access to personal information and most popularly personal mobile devices.
Even though facial recognition in mobile phones is rather minuscule in terms of levels of sensitive information that can be accessed, biometric technology is even being used to grant people entry to government buildings, sensitive areas of offices as well as public events for security purposes.
Automotive giants Jaguar are researching biometrics to possibly feature technology that will grant a driver entry to the vehicle based upon how he/she walks towards it. Whether it turns out to be more than just a gimmick is yet to be seen.
Law enforcement, on the other hand, has been using computerized facial recognition technology and other biometric data for over two decades. Identification of felons has become more evolved as 3D facial technology has made search and apprehension of individuals more efficient.
The US Customs plan to incorporate facial recognition and biometrics into their entry/exit gates at Orlando International Airport and 12 others to collect information regarding passengers with criminal records by matching these images with the database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. If successful, the applications of facial recognition could be applied to every airport in the country.
Retail and Marketing
The use of technology has become popular in retail outlets to prevent shoplifting and reduce crime within their stores. As shoppers walk in, their faces are captured and contrasted against a database to identify people with a history of petty and violent crime alike. This type of tech is said to be able to reduce shoplifting by over 30%.
Apart from this, the applications of facial recognition can be used to promote products and more accurately target advertisements. At FaceX, there is even the development of a smartphone app that detects the skin tone of the user and suggests skincare and cosmetic products that the user can purchase.
Through facial recognition, marketers can collect data such as age, gender, and ethnicity to more effectively target their advertisements. The easiest part is that existing surveillance cameras can be used and simply gaining access to these cameras to collect data is sufficient.
Possibly one of the most important Applications of Facial Recognition technology is in the healthcare sector. Doctors and healthcare officials alike can use facial recognition to access patient’s medical records as well as monitor and diagnose certain diseases.
If implemented properly, potentially fatal diseases can be diagnosed and treated early to avoid the worst outcomes. Currently, only a handful of diseases and disorders can be detected but with the evolution of the technology, it can be further enhanced to catch others as well.
The hospitality sector is one of the most competitive industries in the world. Every advantage whether large or small makes a difference to the players within it. By Applications of Facial Recognition technology, the possibilities are endless.
Hotels can record customer preferences, provide better security and automate check-ins and check outs. The reduction of human error brings a streamlined approach to mundane customer service tasks that don’t require a touch of humanity. (Source)
What data does facial recognition software use?
Although this technology is relatively new, it has received its fair share of criticism. Most importantly, privacy has been the biggest issue with many individuals and social rights groups being uncomfortable with their images being constantly monitored and assessed.
This concern does have its reasons that can be genuinely justified. Despite this, the benefits that a technology such as this brings to the table are far too great to be overlooked.
So what information does our software collect and use?
As mentioned earlier, facial recognition technology maps out your face by collecting data points from your eyes, nose, lips, and jawline. Depending on the use of said information, people do vary in their opinions. At the time of writing, there are a handful of cases of consumers being uneasy of the use of facial recognition in marketing.
Officials from said marketing firms have released statements saying that there is no recording or monitoring of personal information involved.
This technology is only an indication of the progress of society. Security and surveillance cameras have been around for decades. The added input of facial recognition technology only helps identify people if the need arises or a threat is present.
As a reader, this should help you rest easier at night knowing that you are safer now than you ever were.
Where do we go from here?
Like most innovations that have come before it, facial recognition technology has caused a stir. Applications of facial recognition in various sectors constantly grow and soon enough it might be a part of every aspect of life.
Like it or not, facial recognition systems are here to stay. They will keep us safer and make other parts of our lives more interactive. Although the technology is young and not perfect by any means, companies like us, FaceX look to improve ourselves every day to serve up nothing but the best to our customers and the general public.
We may not be psychic and we can’t tell what the future holds, but it looks bright and that is where we are headed.