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October 20th, 2020

Is Face Recognition the Key to a Safe and Responsible World?


Face recognition is no longer a fantasy that enthralls us in sci-fi movies. The technological advancements in recent years have led to the proliferation of face recognition systems in our daily lives. Today, numerous applications use face recognition technology in the smart devices we own. It ensures enhanced data protection and privacy for the users.

It has been around in one way or the other since the 1960s. However, with technological advancements across verticals, the market for these systems has skyrocketed recently. The worldwide market was valued at USD 4.4 billion in 2019. It is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 17.6% during 2020-2025, thanks to the growing need for multi-factor authentication.

The market is working towards increasing the accuracy of the technology and continues to explore its various possibilities. In the following discussion, let us analyze whether face recognition systems can create a safer and responsible world or not.

Demystifying face recognition technology

Simply put, it is the process of recognizing a human face using technology. It is one of the biometric tools capable of identifying or verifying a face through facial patterns and data. As per definition, face recognition technology is a biometric software application that can identify or verify a person by comparing and analyzing patterns based on people’s facial contours.

Generally, there are three steps used in the technology.

  • Face detection – This is the first step where the camera detects and recognizes human faces in images or videos.
  • Face capture – In this process, the face in the image is captured and analyzed. The software will analyze the 80 nodal points that make up the face in the picture. The person’s facial features are then converted into a set of digital information and stored in the database.
  • Verification of Identification – The software looks for similar data in the database and verifies or identifies the face.

Everyday use cases of face recognition technology

It is currently found in numerous innovative end-user applications. Listed below are a few use cases.

  • Face unlocking in mobile phones – Face recognition is increasingly being used in mobile phones for unlocking the device. It provides enhanced data privacy and security in case the phone is stolen.
  • Photo-tagging feature on social media – When members appear in the images, social media platforms like Facebook automatically recognize the face and give tagging suggestions.
  • Air travel made convenient – To improve the convenience of air travel passengers, airlines have started to use face recognition technology in baggage check-ins, entry into flights, and more.
  • Driver recognition in cars – Major car manufacturers now use face recognition technology to replace the key for starting the vehicle.
  • Attendance tracking – Some educational institutions currently use face recognition technology to mark students’ attendance and thus, stop them from skipping classes.

How do businesses and governments take advantage of face recognition?

Deployment of these systems is rapidly progressing in the business world, thanks to the exciting possibilities the technology has opened up. The adoption rate is steadily increasing in various sectors, such as healthcare, banking, digital marketing, and biometric surveillance systems, to name a few.

Listed below are some areas where businesses currently use the technology:

Transforming retail stores

The retail industry is an early adopter of these systems for surveillance, and the adoption rates are augmenting at a rapid pace. Apart from improving surveillance, retail stores use it for other functions such as to customize the shopping experience, identify shoplifters, improve customer service, and more. Famous retail chains like Walmart have already introduced some of these features in their stores.

Identity management

By putting face recognition into action, organizations can move one step closer to creating a safer workplace. It is used in areas where employee identity verification is required, like entry to the workplace, approve financial transactions, access confidential information, etc. In the current pandemic-driven world, it has become a need for businesses to avoid man to machine or man to man contact, and it is a savior here.

Trace missing children

It has evolved as a powerful tool to locate individuals reported as missing, especially children and disoriented people. Using deep machine learning techniques and FR, police in India were able to reunite thousands of kids with their families in the last couple of years.

Improving healthcare

This revolutionary technology is gaining momentum in the healthcare sector too. From accurate patient identification to securing hospital facilities and avoiding fraud, face recognition applications are used for several healthcare industry purposes. Furthermore, it is used for emotion detection and sentimental analysis of patients, leading to improved care quality.

Workforce management

Many companies have been using biometric systems for tracking employee attendance and schedule. Face recognition takes it to the next level of creating smarter workplaces. Several workforce management solutions currently use face recognition to track employee productivity, calculate payroll, and assess job satisfaction.

Does face recognition lead to a safer world?

Undoubtedly, face recognition technology has excellent potential to create a better world. It can primarily help to reduce unauthorized entry into buildings, workplaces, and other establishments, and assist in enhancing the security features. It is also becoming a favored option for financial institutions to prevent fraud and safeguard valuables. It helps to detect employees in warehouses and factory production lines when they avoid safety precautions or compromise on compliance requirements. Governments can aim for better enforcement of law and order as well.

However, face recognition is linked to data privacy concerns similar to other biometric systems. The ethical quandary on surveillance is also a significant concern. The inaccuracy of face recognition systems while identifying specific groups of people is yet another challenge to address. An error in identification can lead to misinterpretation of identities resulting in wrongful convictions at times.

The bottom-line

If used responsibly and under necessary regulations, face recognition is a technology capable of creating a safer world. It is up to the solution providers and governments to pave the way for responsible implementation of this cutting-edge technology.

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