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Digital Themes

Facial Recognition

What is facial recognition?

Facial recognition is an action performed by a technology that is used to match human faces. This type of matching is considered biometric data, and can be done through comparison to an image, a video, or even a face-recognition database. The software behind face detection has advanced to the point that live facial recognition can be done from a video broadcasting in real time. Facial recognition systems were originally applications that were used on computers, but the advances of smartphones and other technology has increased the ways these programs can be accessed and utilized. Face recognition technology relies on artificial intelligence (AI), typically through utilizing a neural network, to analyze features (such as the size and shape of eyes, noses, and chins) in order to identify people.

There are a myriad of ways face recognition systems can be utilized today. In the United States, face recognition is often used by law enforcement agencies, such as police departments or the FBI, to identify potential suspects. Law enforcement may rely on third-party applications, such as Clearview AI, to provide the facial recognition software and large databases of images compiled from throughout the web. However, due to the error rate of such identifications, some places, like San Francisco, have banned the use of facial recognition by municipal government. Facial recognition technology can also be utilized in the private sector. Many social media sites can identify faces in images and videos and recommend that users tag the people in the image. Additionally, many operating systems allow users to unlock their devices simply by looking at the camera. Similarly, in China a service called “Smile to Pay” allows customers to execute payments or open parcel boxes just by scanning their face.

Facial recognition technology is advancing so that it does not just recognize faces. These days, it can also identify emotions, approximate age ranges, and genders. There have also been advancements based on face recognition systems that can identify an individual by their gait, as well as performing analyses on the gait to estimate the risk of the person falling. As the technology continues to evolve so will the possibilities it presents.

Because facial recognition is no longer just limited to identifying faces, it can be applied in a variety of ways, including:

  • Health issues: By looking for indicators of fall risk based on someone’s gait, healthcare providers can take steps to help prevent fall-related injuries before they occur. AI and face recognition technologies have also been utilized to help spot potential melanoma spots so that appropriate tests can be run.

  • Retail sales: Facial recognition can be performed to personalize customer greetings or to link payment or loyalty accounts to a face. These systems have also been deployed to reduce theft and violence within retail locations.

  • Entertainment venues: Large football stadiums in the United States have started testing facial recognition software as a tool for allowing access to events. This can help speed up the process of entry by tying a ticket to a face and decreasing the need for physical interaction between employees and spectators.
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