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facial recognition technology

Facial Recognition Technology

Facial Recognition Technology

What is facial recognition?

Facial recognition software uses facial features to recognise or verify a person’s identification. Facial recognition software technology may be used to locate persons in real time, on camera, or in movies. A type of biometric security is facial recognition. Voice, fingerprint, and iris or eye-retina recognition are examples of further biometric software types. Though interest in other applications is developing, security and law enforcement are the main uses of the technology.

How does facial recognition work?

FaceID, the system that iPhones use to unlock themselves, is well-known to many people (however, this is just a face recognition app). A large library of images is not normally needed for facial recognition to identify a person. It only identifies and acknowledges one person as the device’s exclusive owner while limiting access for others. Facial recognition software, which goes beyond phone unlocking, works by comparing the faces of persons passing by special cameras with pictures of people on a watch list. Images from any source, including our social media accounts, can be found on watchlists, including those who are not accused of wrongdoing. Facial technology systems can differ, but generally speaking, they function as follows:

Step 1: Face detection

Whether a face is alone or among a group of people, the camera can identify and pinpoint its location. The figure in the image may be seen directly ahead or from a profile.

Step 2: Face analysis

The face is then photographed and examined. Since it is easier to compare a 2D image to existing photographs or database entries, most facial recognition technology relies on 2D images rather than 3D ones. The computer reads your face’s geometry. The space between the eyes, the depth of the eye sockets, the separation between the forehead and the chin, the form of the cheekbones, and the shape of the lips, ears, and chin are important characteristics. Finding distinctive facial characteristics on your face is the aim.

Step 3: Converting the image to data

Based on the subject’s facial traits, the face detection procedure transforms analogue information (a face) into a collection of digital information (data). Your facial analysis basically turns into a mathematical calculation. The mathematical code is known as a faceprint. Every individual has a distinct facial print, much like fingerprints.

Step 4: Finding a match

The next step is to compare your facial print to a database of recognised faces. For instance, up to 650 million images from various state databases are accessible to the FBI. Any image that is tagged with a name on Facebook is added to Facebook’s database, which is also capable of face recognition. A decision is made if your face print matches a picture in a facial recognition database.

The most natural biometric measure is regarded to be facial recognition. This makes intuitive sense given that we often identify ourselves and others by looking at their faces rather than their fingerprints or irises. According to estimates, more than half of all people on the planet regularly use face recognition software.

How facial recognition is used

A multitude of uses exist for the technology. These consist of:

Unlocking phones

The newest iPhones and other phones employ facial recognition technology to unlock the phone. The technology provides a strong method to secure personal information and guarantees that important information stays inaccessible in the event that the phone is stolen. According to Apple, there is a one in a million chance that a random face will unlock your phone.

Law enforcement

Facial recognition is frequently used by law enforcement. The use of technology by law enforcement organisations in the US and other nations is increasing, claims this NBC article. Police gather mug photographs of persons who have been arrested and cross-reference them with regional, national, and state facial recognition databases. When a photo of an arrestee is taken, it is entered into databases that are checked whenever the police undertake another criminal investigation.

Additionally, mobile facial recognition enables law enforcement to capture a photo of a motorist or pedestrian in motion while using smartphones, tablets, or other portable devices, and then instantaneously compare that photo against one or more facial recognition databases to make an identification attempt.

Airports and border control

Facial recognition technology is already commonplace in numerous airports all around the world. More and more travellers are using biometric passports, which enable them to bypass the often lengthy lineups and get quicker entry to the gate by passing through automated ePassport screening. In addition to cutting down on wait times, face recognition enhances security at airports. By 2023, 97% of travellers would reportedly utilise face recognition, according to the US Department of Homeland Security. The technology is used to bolster security at important events like the Olympic Games in addition to airports and border crossings.

facial recognition

Finding missing persons

Facial recognition technology may be used to locate missing people and victims of human trafficking. Let’s say a database is expanded to include missing people. If this person is identified by facial recognition, whether at an airport, store, or other public location, police enforcement will be notified as quickly as possible.

Reducing retail crime

Facial recognition is used to identify persons who have a history of fraud, organised retail crime, or theft when they enter establishments. Retail security and loss prevention professionals can be notified when potentially dangerous customers enter the store by matching photos of persons with extensive databases of offenders.

Improving retail experiences

Technology has the ability to improve the shopping experience for customers. Store kiosks, for instance, may identify consumers, recommend products based on their past purchases, and send them in the proper path. Bypassing lengthy checkout lines with slower payment methods may be possible for customers using face payment technology.


Facial recognition technology also has the advantage of biometric internet banking. Customers can authorise transactions by glancing at their computer or smartphone in place of one-time passwords. There are no passwords for hackers to steal using face recognition. The use of your picture database for identity theft should (theoretically) be prevented by “death detection,” a method used to verify whether the source of a biometric sample is a live human being or a false representation. Debit cards and signatures could be obsolete in the future thanks to face recognition.

Facial Recognition Privacy Rights

Even though they can be overcome in some situations, most notably by police investigations into major crimes (and since this is effective, necessary, and appropriate), privacy rights, especially in regard to face biometric photos, are significant. There is undoubtedly a limit to how much privacy rights may be violated without cause. This is unquestionably the case when privacy rights are breached, and sure, they are only violated for financial gain, as is the case when a business model offers “free” services in return for personal data without receiving solid authorization, such as Facebook’s business model. Uses billions of images from social media accounts (e.g. crime), let alone the establishment of a surveillance state (such as has been achieved in China), is obviously unacceptable. A national biometric facial recognition database for use in connection with serious crime and subject to proper accountability mechanisms may be acceptable. Let’s move on to security right now.

Examples of facial recognition technology

  1. Amazon has already marketed to law enforcement agencies its Rekognition cloud-based facial recognition technology. However, the business disclosed in a blog post from June 2020 that it would put a one-year halt on police use of its technologies. The goal was to give US federal law time to preserve civil liberties and human rights.
  2. To help consumers rapidly unlock their phones, sign into applications, and make transactions, Apple utilises face recognition.
  3. British Airways allows customers boarding aircraft from the US to use face recognition. A camera may scan a passenger’s face to confirm their identification, allowing them to board a plane without having to provide their passport or boarding card. The airline has implemented the technology on domestic UK flights departing from Heathrow and is working toward implementing biometric boarding on those aircraft.
  4. To combat fraud, US-based health insurer Cigna enables clients in China to file claims for medical coverage using a picture rather than a handwritten signature.
  5. Coca-Cola has employed face recognition in a number of global initiatives. In China, some of its vending machines provide rewards for recycling; in Australia, some of them display tailored advertisements; while in Israel, event marketing is used.

Technology companies that provide facial recognition technology include:

  • Kairos
  • Noldus
  • Affectiva
  • Sightcorp
  • Nviso

Advantages of face recognition

Facial recognition offers further advantages in addition to unlocking your smartphone:

Increased security

Facial recognition technology may be used by the authorities to detect terrorists and other offenders. Face recognition may be used as a personal security tool to disallow access to personal gadgets and cameras.

Reduced crime

Finding thieves, robbers, and invaders is simple thanks to facial recognition technology. Particularly for minor offences, the mere knowledge that a facial recognition technology is in existence might serve as a deterrent. There are advantages to cybersecurity as well as physical security. Businesses can replace passwords for computer access with face recognition technology. Theoretically, since there is nothing to steal or alter, like a password, the technology cannot be hacked.

Removing bias from stop and search

Police issue stems from public outrage over unjustified stops and searches; facial recognition technology may help. Facial recognition technology might assist minimise possible prejudice and lessen stops and searches of law-abiding persons by detecting suspects in crowds through an automated rather than human procedure.

Greater convenience

Customers no longer need to use their credit card or cash to make purchases in stores since technology is becoming more widely used. This could shorten checkout lines. Face recognition enables a quick, automated, and seamless verification process because it doesn’t require physical touch like fingerprints or other security methods necessary in the post-COVID environment.

Faster processing

Facial recognition technology is advantageous for businesses since it can be completed in less than a second. In the era of cyberattacks and sophisticated hacking tools, businesses require quick and secure systems. Face recognition makes it possible to rapidly and effectively confirm someone’s identification.

Integration with other technologies

The majority of security software is compatible with facial recognition systems. In actuality, integration is simple. As a result, the amount of additional funding needed to implement it is constrained.

Disadvantages of face recognition

When there is a clear advantage or rationale, some individuals don’t mind being photographed in public or objecting to the use of facial recognition technology, but for certain people, the technology might elicit strong feelings. Some of the drawbacks or issues are:


Some worry that the widespread use of face recognition technology, together with video cameras, artificial intelligence, and data analysis, could lead to an increase in mass surveillance that would restrict people’s freedom. Governments can find criminals using facial recognition technology, but they may also find innocent, regular individuals at any time.

Scope for error

Because facial recognition technology is not error-free, it may lead to false accusations against innocent persons. An mistake could be caused, for instance, by a tiny adjustment to the camera angle or a change in look, such as a new hairdo. Newsweek revealed in 2018 that 28 US Congressmen have been mistakenly labelled as criminals by Amazon’s face recognition software.

About the Author

Ahsan Azam is the author who specializes in avionics as well as research writing. The author has a keen attention to detail and is focused on providing interesting content to the readers.

About Stone Age Technologies SIA

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