Facial recognition technology has been embedded deep into the fabrics of today’s world. This makes it necessary to learn. In this guide, we will talk about facial recognition technology and its benefits. Do well to read through this guide keenly.
What is facial recognition?
Facial recognition is a way of detecting or confirming a person’s identity using their face. Facial recognition systems can be used to identify people in photos, videos, or in real-time.
Facial recognition is a type of biometric security. The technology is mostly used for security and law enforcement, though there is increasing interest in other areas of use.
Face Recognition System
The face recognition procedure simply requires any device that has digital photographic technology to generate and obtain the images and data necessary to create and record the biometric facial pattern of the person that needs to be identified.
Unlike other identification types such as passwords, verification by email, images, or fingerprint identification, Biometric facial recognition uses unique mathematical and dynamic patterns that make this system one of the safest and most effective ones.
The objective of face recognition is, from the incoming image, to find a series of data of the same face in a set of training images in a database. The great difficulty is ensuring that this process is carried out in real-time, something that is not available to all biometric facial recognition software providers.
The facial recognition process can perform two variants depending on when it is performed:
- The one in which, for the first time, a facial recognition system addresses a face to register it and associate it with an identity, in such a way that it is recorded in the system. This process is also known as digital onboarding with facial recognition.
- The variant in which the user is authenticated, prior to being registered. In this process, the incoming data from the camera is crossed with the existing data in the database. If the face matches an already registered identity, the user is granted access to the system with his credentials.
How does facial recognition work?
Interestingly, many people are familiar with face recognition technology through the FaceID used to unlock iPhones (however, this is only one application of face recognition). Typically, facial recognition does not rely on a massive database of photos to determine an individual’s identity — it simply detects and recognizes one person as the sole owner of the device, while limiting access to others.
Beyond unlocking phones, facial recognition works by matching the faces of people walking past special cameras, to images of people on a watch list. The watch lists can contain pictures of anyone, including people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing and the images can come from anywhere — even from our social media accounts. Facial technology systems can vary, but in general, they tend to operate as follows:
Step 1: Face detection
The camera detects and locates the image of a face, either alone or in a crowd. The image may show the person looking straight ahead or in profile.
Step 2: Face analysis
Next, an image of the face is captured and analyzed. Most facial recognition technology relies on 2D rather than 3D images because it can more conveniently match a 2D image with public photos or those in a database.
The software reads the geometry of your face. Key factors include the distance between your eyes, the depth of your eye sockets, the distance from forehead to chin, the shape of your cheekbones, and the contour of the lips, ears, and chin. The aim is to identify the facial landmarks that are key to distinguishing your face.
Step 3: Converting the image to data
The face capture process converts analog information (a face) into a set of digital information (data) based on the person’s facial features. Your face’s analysis is essentially turned into a mathematical formula. The numerical code is called a faceprint. In the same way that thumbprints are unique, each person has their own faceprint.
Step 4: Finding a match
Your faceprint is then likened to a database of other known faces. For example, the FBI has access to up to 650 million photos, drawn from various state databases. On Facebook, any photo tagged with a person’s name becomes a part of Facebook’s database, which may also be used for facial recognition. If your faceprint matches an image in a facial recognition database, then a determination is made.
Of all the biometric measurements, facial recognition is considered the most natural. Intuitively, this makes sense, since we typically recognize ourselves and others by looking at faces, rather than thumbprints and irises. It is estimated that over half of the world’s population is touched by facial recognition technology regularly.
Who uses facial recognition?
A lot of people and organizations use facial recognition — and in a lot of different places. Here’s a sampling:
- U.S. government at airports. Facial recognition systems can monitor people coming and going in airports. The Department of Homeland Security has used the technology to identify people who have overstayed their visas or may be under criminal investigation. Customs officials at Washington Dulles International Airport made their first arrest using facial recognition in August of 2018, catching an impostor trying to enter the country.
- Mobile phone makers in products. Apple first used facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X and has continued with the technology with the iPhone XS. Face ID authenticates — it makes sure you’re you when you access your phone. Apple says the chance of a random face unlocking your phone is about one in 1 million.
- Colleges in the classroom. Facial recognition software can, in essence, take the role. If you decide to cut class, your professor could know. Don’t even think of sending your brainy roommate to take your test.
- Hospitals use facial recognition to help with patient care. Healthcare providers are testing the use of facial recognition to access patient records, streamline patient registration, detect emotion and pain in patients, and even help to identify specific genetic diseases. AiCure has developed an app that uses facial recognition to ensure that people take their medication as prescribed. As biometric technology becomes less expensive, adoption within the healthcare sector is expected to increase.
- Social media companies on websites. Facebook uses an algorithm to spot faces when you upload a photo to its platform. The social media company asks if you want to tag people in your photos. If you say yes, it creates a link to their profiles. Facebook can recognize faces with 98 percent accuracy.
- Businesses at entrances and restricted areas. Some companies have traded in security badges for facial recognition systems. Beyond security, it could be one way to get some face time with the boss.
- Religious groups at places of worship. Churches have used facial recognition to scan their congregations to see who’s present. It’s a good way to track regulars and not-so-regulars, as well as to help tailor donation requests.
- Retailers in stores. Retailers can combine surveillance cameras and facial recognition to scan the faces of shoppers. One goal: identifying suspicious characters and potential shoplifters.
- Airlines at departure gates. You might be accustomed to having an agent scan your boarding pass at the gate to board your flight. At least one airline scans your face.
- Marketers and advertisers in campaigns. Marketers often consider things like gender, age, and ethnicity when targeting groups for a product or idea. Facial recognition can be used to define those audiences even at something like a concert.
Facial recognition advantages and disadvantages
As a relatively new technology, we still understand the pros and cons of facial recognition. But here is a brief list of both the positives and possible negatives of this technology.
- Finding missing people: With facial recognition, law enforcement agencies have been able to track down missing children, sometimes even after they’ve been missing for years.
- Identifying criminals: Law enforcement agencies can also use facial recognition to identify criminals or suspects in crimes.
- Making flying safer: Airports across the globe are using facial recognition to identify criminals and potential threats as they enter airports or try to board flights.
- More efficient shopping? Retailers can use facial recognition to make it easier for consumers to check out. Instead of forcing customers to pay with cash or credit, retailers can use facial recognition to immediately charge their purchases to their accounts.
- A threat to privacy? Do you want your face saved in a database that law enforcement agencies can tap? Do you want retailers to have a saved image of your face? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Many critics worry that facial recognition is one more erosion of personal privacy.
- Mistaken identity: Facial recognition isn’t perfect. What if a law enforcement agency mistakenly identifies you as a criminal suspect when you’re filing into your favorite ballpark?
- It can be tricked: Criminals can trick facial recognition by wearing masks or facial disguises. This could lessen the effectiveness of this tech.
- Aging lowers its effectiveness: Studies have found that as people age, and their features change, facial recognition has an increasingly difficult time identifying them. Other studies have shown that facial recognition is less effective in identifying people of color and women.
How to protect yourself
While biometric data is generally considered one of the most reliable authentication methods, it also carries significant risk. That’s because if someone’s credit card details are hacked, that person has the option to freeze their credit and take steps to change the personal information that was breached. What do you do if you lose your digital ‘face’?
Around the world, biometric information is being captured, stored, and analyzed in increasing quantities, often by organizations and governments, with a mixed record on cybersecurity. A question increasingly being asked is, how safe is the infrastructure that holds and processes all this data?
As facial recognition software is still in its relative infancy, the laws governing this area are evolving (and sometimes non-existent). Regular citizens whose information is compromised have relatively few legal avenues to pursue. Cybercriminals often elude the authorities or are sentenced years after the fact, while their victims receive no compensation and are left to fend for themselves.
A comprehensive cybersecurity package is an essential part of protecting your online privacy and security. It is important you try some security package that provides protection for all your devices and includes antivirus, anti-ransomware, mobile security, password management, VPN, and parental controls.
To sum it up, as the use of facial recognition becomes more widespread, the scope for hackers to steal your facial data to commit fraud increases. However, with some antivirus packages, you will be able to protect yourself from cyber thieves.