Facial recognition technology has taken the world by storm. You must have witnessed it on Facebook while tagging your friends in pictures from a class reunion, or while tagging relatives after a cousin’s wedding. Other companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple, have built on this technology to enable users to compile entire albums of individuals that hang out together based on their facial features.
Facial recognition technology has the ability to verify passenger identities at airports and has become the go-to method for authentication prior to unlocking smartphones. Have to confirm your identity before making a transaction of USD 1,000 through a bank? All you have to do is look into the camera and the job is done.
Advanced applications have been enabled through facial recognition technology. Want to check who’s ringing your doorbell or entering an office facility? A video-based face identification system can monitor that for you. Other face recognition systems are used for detecting wanted criminals, missing persons, and slackers that lie about the amount of time they spend working. Advertisement agencies have also efficiently utilized facial recognition technology, where billboards can now display ads based on the data gathered about people’s age, gender, and even mood.
Facial Recognition as a Surveillance Tool
Numerous countries have been using facial recognition technology for the purpose of surveillance. China has been using facial recognition technology for border control, to detect and fine pedestrians breaking a law, verify students at school gates, and observe their expressions during school lessons to ascertain they are paying attention.
Another country that is utilizing facial recognition system is Russia. CCTV cameras in Moscow are known to scan the roads to identify “people of interest” and initiatives are being considered to arm the police with biometric-based glasses that can perform the same function.
In Britain, the South Wales and Metropolitan police carry out trials for using facial recognition technology to spot individuals in football and rugby stadiums, on the city roads, and at other public places such as music festivals. In fact, a renowned pop artist Taylor Swift even allowed the technology to be set up at a concert in California to filter out stalkers from the massive crowd.
Retail stores are increasingly integrating facial recognition technology to deter and get a hold of shoplifters and robbers. In 2021, this technology will also make its debut at the Olympic Games in Japan, Tokyo.
How did it get so Popular?
Technological advancements in three fields have played a major role in facial recognition technology gaining ground: Big Data, deep belief neural networks, and robust GPUs (graphics processing units).
Because of applications such as Instagram, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Flickr, and others, thousands of pictures of people’s faces can now be found on the internet, which can be compiled together to form image databases. These are used to train artificial-backed systems to detect and recognize distinct facial features. Within the last few years, in particular, facial recognition technology has been well-positioned across most business sectors, and the information gathered from them allows companies to make their business operations more convenient, cost-effective, and modern.
How Does it Work?
The algorithms behind facial recognition technology go through various stages of image processing prior to detecting an individual. These are:
- Capture: In this step, a sample of physical and behavioral features is collected.
- Extraction: Data from the collected features is extracted to create biometric templates distinct to each individual.
- Comparison: Once data has been extracted, it is then compared against existing templates.
- Matching: In the final step, a decision is made once the facial features are found to match a new sample or an existing sample. This process is completed in mere seconds.
What Does the Future Hold?
An increasing number of companies are enhancing their systems to operate faster, using more facial data. Today, images can be extracted even from pictures captured in low resolution due to bad lighting or covered faces. Though still at an early stage, research is underway on AI-based face recognition online to better detect individuals wearing masks or other items to disguise themselves. To make the results of facial recognition technology even more credible and effective, face biometrics are being combined with other forms of biometrics, including voice recognition systems and retina or iris scans.