December 12, 2014

The Face of the Future in Facial Recognition

In this rapidly growing world we live in, technological innovation has been amust for most of the industry sectors. The changes are quite evident: we’ve gone from writing down our homework and hand it in to our teacher, to sharing it online in a common blog between our classmates. Or from doing mathematical calculations manually to just tapping on the numbers on a calculator and let it do its work. There is no doubt that technology only brought us a higher sense of comfort and so made our lives much easier.

Facial recognition software has been experiencing an amazing innovation progress, and its capabilities have broadened significantly. Facial recognition is evolving and getting smarter constantly because people are using it more, even if we don’t even realize about it.

Let’s have a look at our daily life. Social networks have introduced a facial recognition software that automatically recognizes people identity, and suggests to tag the person in the picture. Many apps are also using this software to detect faces and make modifications through some editing tools, or guess the age and gender of the subject detected.

One of the reasons why face recognition is so popular is that face images exist of almost everybody”, said Kevin Bowyer, an expert on biometrics and chair of the department of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame.

And if you think about it, the progress that has been made in facial detection and identification just in the last decade is impressive.

Accurate and Unique

Now, moving beyond the debate of security versus privacy, it is necessary to understand how facial recognition technology helps improve people and businesses wellness in many different levels.

Surveillance in general is now found in our daily basis. And facial recognition is used in many ways such as social media, commercial businesses, sports events, banking, law enforcement and transportation. According to NIST, today’s facial recognition algorithms are proven to be 10 times more accurate than those of 2002, and 100 times more accurate than those of 1995, so it’s a software that’s still experiencing a fascinating innovation.

Biometric recognition offers a high level of security for businesses and industries. Many countries are benefiting from the use of face-recognition in their services and events, and their reputation increases due to the safety that their citizens experience. Now, this technology enables us to identify foreign people that are willing to visit our country, enhance the probabilities of detecting intrusive and trouble-makers, and allowing/denying access in specific areas.

But just as many other technologies, it is not as easy as it may look. “Identification is a very messy process. It’s as messy for computers as it is for humans” said Kelly Gates, author of Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology.

People look like each other, people look different over time… ​You can never establish certainties; you can only establish probabilities of matches.

Additionally, the concept of face-recognition is intrinsically cool, and its advantages are obvious. How many science fiction films, cartoons and comic strips have pushed for the idea of biometric technology? We might soon be able to pay in stores just by scanning our facial features!

Did you know?

Facial recognition studies started in 1960’s, with Woody Bledsoe along with Helen Chan Wolf and Charles Bisson – pioneers of automated facial recognition – worked together using the computer to recognize human faces.

Until now, there have been many improvements in biometric technology, not only facial recognition but also fingerprint and iris identification. However, the key factor that has made face recognition a relevant tool for security is that it does not require having a direct contact with the subject. This is why many industries keep investing on research and improvements for face recognition technology, leading to the possibility of recognizing faces in high resolution images and cameras as well as new algorithms that are able to distinguish identical twins.

Written by: Laura Blanc Pedregal

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