Facial recognition technologies – the biometric ability to identify and verify a human face from a digital image – are being rapidly deployed across a diverse range of business industries. Notwithstanding the obvious security benefits, facial recognition technologies’ ever improving accuracy, speed of response and ubiquitous rollout has provoked a degree of unease in some quarters.
What is face recognition, and how does it work?
Facial recognition technologies, as the name itself suggests, is a process whereby an individual can be identified by capturing, analysing and comparing patterns on an the individual’s face. It consists of the following:
- Face detection – identifying and locating human faces in videos and images
- Face capture – transforming the analogue information of a face into data, according to the facial features (i.e. spacing of the eyes, contour of the lips, chin, bridge of the nose)
- Face match – verifying whether or not two faces belong to the same individual
Top Facial Recognition Technologies
The established global technology giants are vying for the #1 spot, hence Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft are the recognised key players in this biometric innovation:
- In 2014, Facebook launched DeepFace – a program that can determine with an accuracy rate of 97.25% whether two faces belong to the same person
- In 2015, Google launched FaceNet – an accurate facial recognition system that is used by Google Photos to identify, sort, and tag people in pictures
- In 2018, Ars Technica highlighted that Amazon’s facial recognition software ‘Rekognition’ can identify up to one-hundred people in a single image and quickly cross-check with databases to deliver precise results
To understand better where the technology is heading, we have looked at the top 5 trends of facial recognition in 2019.
1. Booming Markets
According to a recent research report on the facial recognition market by Markets and Markets™, the global facial recognition market which in 2019 was worth $3.2 billion is expected to grow to $7 billion by 2024 at an annual compounded growth rate of 16.6%. The key drivers of this projected phenomenal growth are an ever increasing user base, evolving government security strategies, the increasing need for fraud detection and mobile device proliferation
Face recognition has an essential role to play in the health sector. Did you know that face recognition systems can help to accurately track the use of medication by parents, support pain management procedures as well as help detect genetic diseases?
In its infancy today, the technology is set to rapidly transform the health sector over the coming decade.
Marketing and Retail
If shopping experiences can be tailored to suit individual customers’ needs more readily, consumers –and companies- can benefit. Amazon and Facebook are 2 of the largest companies using facial recognition technology in retail today.
Through the use of facial recognition systems, these companies use historical data to pitch relevant products and/or services as well as analyse shopping behaviour in real time to make their offerings ever more customer-centric.
What’s more astonishing is the concept of selfie payment. Since 2017, KFC – the American fast food company – and Alibaba – the Chinese multi-national conglomerate – have been testing a face recognition system for self-payments. Such advancements may mean it won’t be too far into the distant future before we transform from a cashless society to a cardless one.
2. Embracing Deep Learning
Artificial intelligence and deep learning – a specific branch of machine learning whereby a system continuously learns from data to improve incrementally – and combined two of the most disruptive emerging technologies- are the driving forces behind face recognition.
These technologies have been pivotal to the growth of face recognition in 2019, they are essential for face tracking, face detection and face match. As such, significant improvements in face recognition systems are predicted in 2020.
A 2018 report by NIST highlights that in the 5yr period leading up to the report, there was a considerable increase in the accuracy of face recognition systems that was substantially higher than the improvements made in the period 2010-2013.
The next 2-3 years, the report goes on to say, will be even more important for the development of face recognition technologies through advancements made on the back of artificial neural network algorithms – networks that after a learning phase become capable of giving a correct output value (or Result) after processing various input values.
3. Mapping New Users
China and India are experiencing rapid growth in the use of face recognition technologies. Today, the U.S is home to the biggest face recognition applications market.
According to Reuters in 2018, security officials in Beijing, China tested smart glasses that used facial recognition technology to identify suspects in real-time. Building on these findings, the New York Times reports that China is working with a number of revolutionarily A.I companies including SenseTime, Yitu, and CloudWalk to set up and perfect a face recognition camera and video surveillance system nationwide.
In India, the Adhaar project – the biggest biometric database in the world – is now being further upgraded as the feature of facial authentication is included. This could mean that close to 1.2 billion people- the entire population of India- will be facially recognised by systems, devices and software.
4. Boosting Security
While face recognition login and face recognition online is becoming well established, the use of facial recognition for detecting and in turn, preventing crime is regarded as the most important application of this emerging technology.
From being used at borders and high-risk locations such as government buildings, airports and nuclear power plants to fast-becoming the integral component of the security detail of commonplace buildings everywhere be it a local business, multi-national supermarket or library, facial recognition is a recognised deterrent designed to help boost security.
Through facial recognition, law enforcement agencies can recognise individuals with a past criminal record as well as identify those looking to engage in suspicious activities that could lead to an unwanted security breach. This in turn allows organisations to speedily undertake necessary actions to effectively protect the safety and security of its people as well as its physical assets.
5. The rise of the facial recognition hackers
Facial recognition software is clearly delivering great benefits, but it is not by any means fool proof:
- Grigory Bakunov – a specialist at one of Russia’s premier tech companies – has developed an algorithm to fool face recognition software
- AI researches at the University of Toronto developed an algorithm to deceive facial recognition technology, Forbes
- Adam Harvey an artist in Berlin, Germany formed CV Dazzle – a device to camouflage from face detection software – and is now working on clothing patterns to prevent detection from facial recognition software
The evolution of facial recognition technologies have made it an established disrupter in 2019. The implementation of this technology is in its infancy, and is set to revolutionise many areas of our lives.