Facial recognition software is a category of applications designed to identify or confirm a person’s identity in photos, videos, or in real-time. It detects and captures images of people’s faces, converts those images into data, analyzes and maps out facial features, then compares with the existing data to find matches.
In this definition...
How does FRS work?
There are three stages of facial recognition: detection and image capture, facial mapping and analysis, and identity confirmation or verification.
First, detection & image capture
Hardware—a closed-circuit TV camera, for instance—captures a video or photo of a person and feeds the image into the software to be converted into data. Alternatively, previously captured still photos and videos can be uploaded for analysis.
Then facial mapping and analysis
Powered by artificial intelligence, the application maps and analyzes facial features, including the geometry of a person’s face, shape, the distance between the eyes, the measurement from forehead to the chin, and contours of the face. In addition, facial recognition software identifies distinguishing landmarks, such as the forehead, eyes, eye sockets, cheekbones, lips, nose, and ears. In all, facial recognition software can gather hundreds or thousands of data points about a single face.
Finally, identity confirmation and verification
This combination of hundreds of data points creates a near-unique digital signature of an individual’s face that can be compared against databases with similar information. The software compares the new images to the existing ones in local or shared databases to find matches and verify a person’s identity. Then the new data is stored in the database for future reference.
How is facial recognition software used?
Facial recognition technology has many use cases, including traffic management, healthcare, transportation and logistics, tourism, student identification, games, etc. Here are some of the popular ones:
- Unlocking a smartphone: Prominently used as a security feature of a mobile device, like iPhone’s FaceID. It functions as an added security layer that denies unrecognized faces from using the device and prevents unauthorized access to its applications and contents.
- Surveillance, law enforcement, and public safety. An efficient surveillance tool as it matches the faces of people on watch lists. While surveillance advocates point to facial recognition software as an effective deterrent to crime since people are aware that they can be easily identified, privacy advocates object to facial images being captured without the knowledge or consent of those being photographed. Too, gathering facial data creates significant data security concerns.
- Data security and proof verification in banking. Facial recognition prevents unauthorized access to a bank account. It also simplifies and speeds up the customer verification process. New customers could present valid identification documents and have their faces scanned by the machine to verify identities.
- Marketing, customer engagement, and business insights. Having people’s faces analyzed on their reactions to certain products gives marketers and advertisers business insights on customizing and improving product presentation.
Some examples of facial recognition software
Although one of the most recognizable is Apple’s FaceID, there are other facial recognition platforms designed for enterprise users.
- Amazon Rekognition — Processes facial data against a massive cloud dataset.
- Betaface — Offers both simple and complex biometric identification, including emotion and ethnicity recognition — facial detection, recognition, identification, and verification, tracking photos and video images.
- BioID — Offered as biometrics-as-a-service deployable on-premise and in the cloud. It detects facial movements, verifies photos as proof of identity, and helps prevent online fraud.
- DeepVision AI — Features automated video analysis and real-time analytics in addition to its facial verification capability, which is recommended for retail firms, marketers, brands, advertisers, real estate developers, etc.
- OpenBR — Facial recognition software that offers similar technology and services, such as facial detection and verification, to leading FRS, only that it’s open-source.
Pros and cons of facial recognition software
As biometric software, it is commonly used in law enforcement, device security, and data protection. It unlocks mobile devices, strengthens data security, improves law enforcement and security, improves the customer experience in retail, and speeds up document processing and identity verification.
But like any other technology, there are some ethical issues associated with its uses. Facial recognition software can be a tool for mass surveillance that potentially infringes upon people’s privacy, and restricts freedom of movement. Also, at the hands of criminals, facial recognition can be an efficient tool to track down targeted individuals.