You may have at least once noticed in movies, a suspect being tracked down using a digital image or a video frame from CCTV footages and other video sources. While it may look sci-fi or futuristic, such technologies are actively used all over the world for a variety of motives.
However, what exactly is facial recognition technology? In addition, is it safe as it is advertised? Let us take a look at what this feature is, and how does it work.
What Is Facial Recognition Technology?
Some hardware manufacturers promote their device security with the help of Face ID, which they claim to be more secure and faster than other traditional unlocking mechanism. These sensors use an AI based feature called facial recognition technology, that can map and match facial structures.
Also sometimes referred to as biometric authentication, the facial recognition system is a technology that is used to map your face from either a still image or a video frame, and then use artificial intelligence to match that with records already present, or perform some other activities.
Where Is This Used?
Facial recognition technologies are used worldwide for many purposes. It is used in small scale in your IoT devices as a layer of authentication (eg. Face ID in your smartphones and Windows Hello). It also finds use in forensic research for identifying potential suspects. Agencies across the world use this feature to monitor the traffic at various places like airports and railway stations.
Casinos across the world use this feature to keep an eye on cheaters and repeat offenders; I have seen it in real life being used in casinos in India. Such is their dependence on this technology, that, players who want out of their gambling addictions willingly provide their face data so that they can be restricted from their favorite casinos.
Social media companies use this feature to suggest tags when you upload an image to their platform. You will notice Facebook and Instagram automatically suggesting the people in an image. Many marketing agencies also use this to define the advertisements according to gender, age and ethnicity.
Colleges and businesses use facial recognition to monitor attendances and entries to a given location. Many buildings have upgraded from physical badges to facial recognition sensors for entry and exits.
How Does It Work?
The way facial recognition technology works is actually very similar to how we humans recognize faces. If you think closely, when you see a person, you notice their facial structure, then that information is processed by your brain to identify who you will be interacting with.
Now consider this process automated on a computer. That is the simple way a facial recognition software works. The basic steps are as follows:
Face Data Detection
To a video playback, when facial recognition system is attached, the software scans for the available faces in the given video frame. Anything similar to a face on a head is detected and captured for further processing.
Various data like the orientation, position and size is collected in this stage. This works for single images, as well as large crowds. This enables the user to locate an individual in highly crowded areas.
Once the basic data is processed, the software proceeds to read the geometry of the face, in order to register the face data correctly. This process is called normalization.
Many key anthropological features of your face are studied in this process, including the interpupillary distance (distance between your eyes), face length (distance between forehead and chin), thickness of your nose and lips, relative position of your facial features like eyes, nose and lips, etc.
The resulting data is compiled as “your” facial signature. This is your facial formula that will be unique to you.
Once your facial signature is generated, it is converted to transformable data. This unique code is made so that recognition software can read and process it further. This is called representation.
Once the data is compiled, it is then used to cross-reference it against a database of other facial imprints generated earlier. Stored data is used to match the information with the current individual, and then any matches are shown in a tabular form also indicating how much of a match occurred.
The software notifies the user of the matches, and facial recognition has completed.
Seeming complicated, the technology has evolved to such great heights that all this happens within a matter of seconds. Facial recognition is also safer, since your face data is unique to you and cannot be reciprocated. The most robust example of this has to be the Apple Face ID, which boasts of a one in a million hits accuracy.
The effectiveness of this is the reason that many agencies across the world are integrating this into their daily mechanisms. This was a brief about facial recognition technology, and I hope you found this helpful.