Face Recognition AI

Facial Recognition: Boon, Bane, and Everything in Between

Facial Recognition: a technology that can identify and confirm the identity of an individual, whether in a crowd, picture, videos, or a crowd in a picture and videos, has found far-reaching applications from the surveillance standpoint. 

Both private ownership and public authorities are finding ways to fit the technology in their budgets to put it to maximum utilization. The progress in the field has been so rapid, that there are high chances if you are reading this on your phone, you used facial recognition to unlock it. However, regardless of how advanced facial recognition can make systems of security far more capable, the concerns that walk hand in hand are enough to limit the use. 

Facial Recognition: What, How, and Why in a Capsule

It can be considered as a highly advanced data mining and analysis process that feeds on facial features as the basic format of data. Technically, it is a biometrics driven technology that can verify a person from a digital source of data and trace back every bit of information that exists in the existing and accessible databases. 

How does facial recognition work?

Also known as biometric AI, facial recognition finds its roots in identifying, matching, collaborating, and analyzing specific features of a face excluding the ones that can act as a standalone biometric-based recognition. This means facial recognition and iris recognition don’t intersect, the distance between a person’s eyes, however, is an identification factor in the former.

A typical process of facial recognition and analysis works in the following four steps:

  1. Face Detection: the sensors detect the presence of a face on the radar.
  2. Face Capture: striking features of the face are captured.
  3. Face Conversion: features are converted into the form of binary data understandable to the computers.
  4. Face Match: large databases are mapped to match the binary data and identify the face.

Why do we need it?

In contrast to its iris and fingerprint counterparts, facial recognition is revered for its non-invasive and contactless technology. But it’s hard to dismiss that it also brings its precision record lower than the rest. The expansive nature of the applications of the technology, however, is enough to leave other biometric recognition behind and it hence derives most research and investment.

What are these applications that have revolutionized the world of commercial and public surveillance?

Employment and Application: How We Utilize Facial Recognition

Public Sector

It’s no news that face recognition systems topped the surveillance technologies that were used in several important global events across the country. Right from events that grabbed international eyeballs like the Commonwealth Games in Queensland and the UEFA Champions League Final to the basic implementation of facial recognition with CCTV monitoring, the public sector and the government authorities have got the wheels turning for this technology. Whether these attempts were entirely successful or not, however, is a matter of debate.

Regardless of the limitations, countries have been persistent in employing this technology to their advantage. Although Switzerland tops the list of countries that best and most employ facial recognition in public surveillance systems, India’s recent announcement to implement an FR database for the police department has paved the way for the country to set up the world’s largest government-operated facial recognition system.

Besides surveillance, this technology is also being used to thwart digital attacks on sensitive databases of national importance.

Private Sector and Industrial Use Cases

Facial recognition technology has long been commercialized, and to great extent has been made affordable. The frontrunners in the race are the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) which have been innovating and remodeling the technology for wider use.

Social Media 

The face filters that we see rampantly being used today on Snapchat, Instagram, and other such apps are a product of facial recognition. 

Deep Face

Facebook’s recent innovation Deep Face operates on a nine million neural network and beats even the FBI’s identification system based on the technology in terms of accuracy by a flat 12%.

Attendance Systems and ID

The most common use that we can see commonly emerging is the application of facial recognition in offices for marking attendances in offices or as an ID passcode in laboratories and smartphones alike.

Challenges, Loopholes, and Limitations Of The Technology

The most primary concerns that need to be addressed before any form of authority employs facial recognition on a large scale is privacy and regulatory frameworks. Since the use of this technology practically means having the right to identify, track, and background-check any individual with his/ her facial data in the database, the legitimacy of its authorized use is often questioned.

Loopholes and Limitations

Even the most advanced of technologies cannot predict the ways in which humans can dodge their administered surveillance. This can be observed in the case of facial recognition with loopholes cropping up that make it ineffective. 

The most popular ones include false-positives — an error that occurs when the system matches a person’s face to someone else’s. This can happen when the face that is captured is very similar to the output produced, as in the case of identical twins, or when the features are converted into the same set of binary numbers, a rare but possible error by which the technology confuses two people as one. Another common loophole that is observed is the error reported when people are wearing masks, particularly ones darker in color. 

Future Of Facial Recognition: Streamlining The Power Of Biometric Technology

A peek into what lies in the future of facial recognition worldwide can be seen in some of the countries’ efforts to ensure social distancing in the times of Covid-19. Countries like China, Singapore, and South Korea did a commendable job of utilizing the power of surveillance for curbing the spread of the virus. 

However, imagine the kind of difference it would have made, had remote surveillance been combined with facial recognition to enable contact tracing? While most countries lack the necessary infrastructure, however, the constant developments in the technology are proof of the sure-shot affordability of this technology in the near future. 

As far as the private sector is concerned, we can expect to see facial recognition embedded to track and monitor expressions, read emotions, consent verification, and much more. In the public sector, we can expect greater reforms to develop algorithms that may be able to help the privacy problem of facial recognition while maintaining precisive surveillance standards. 

Because it is undeniable that once this technology is integrated and streamlined with the entire national surveillance systems, with adequate measures to check the problem of privacy, the security standards of that country can easily become impenetrable.

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