Developed in the 1960s, facial recognition technology is now found across the world in industries such as law enforcement, travel and IT security.
While facial recognition software offers many benefits, this new technology is still relatively immature and poses some legal and ethical issues. Regulations need developing to make sure facial recognition tech doesn’t invade people’s privacy, and full transparency is crucial for companies wishing to implement it.
How facial recognition software works
Facial recognition software uses facial features to identify people. It detects faces, creates a digital image and matches it to photos already held of the public. No physical interaction is needed, and the process itself is quick.
Main uses for facial recognition technology
Facial recognition software can be used as a form of biometric identification to confirm that people are who they say they are.
Example uses include:
- mobile device logins
- mobile payments
- building access
- ePassports gates
In healthcare, when combined with deep learning, facial recognition analyses movements and can identify indicators of illnesses like strokes or heart attacks. It can also detect genetic disorders and may improve the accuracy and speed of genetic testing.
Facial recognition software is widely used in law enforcement and security for:
- identifying criminals
- finding missing persons
- policing major events
- border checks
- police and driving licence checks
- fraud prevention
Concerns about facial recognition software
Widespread acceptance of facial recognition software is still a long way off. Some feel the technology is intrusive and, in certain circumstances, breaches the right to privacy.
In Kings Cross, London, a development has stopped using the software after a backlash from the public. In Cardiff, the High Court rejected a legal challenge against the use of facial recognition by the South Wales Police.
Many people have also questioned the accuracy of the software. In the 2017 Champion’s League final, facial recognition was used to look for known football hooligans but was only 8% accurate. Research carried out in the USA showed that it was less reliable for people of colour and women, perpetuating racial and gender bias.
The debate around whether facial recognition software breaches privacy and data protection laws is likely to continue for some time, as are ethical concerns. It’s clear that the technology must comply with human rights and data protection laws if it is to be implemented. Companies should also include ethical considerations in any policy related to its use.
The future of facial recognition software
Facial recognition has great potential. Once the software is refined, so that it’s more precise and the correct regulations are in place, it could change the landscape of customer experience. For example, retailers could use it to identify customers as they come into a shop. Then, they can tailor the shopping experience based on the customer’s purchase history and social media profiles.
In China, facial recognition is being developed as a payment device for restaurants. The technology is replacing bank cards, with ATMs using facial recognition combined with a phone number to withdraw money. In the UK, age check verification using facial recognition is evolving, so people can use self-service machines without needing staff to verify their identity.
Security is an area where facial recognition is sure to expand. Combined with liveness detection, which proves a person is alive, it will allow access to confidential accounts like medical and bank records and cryptocurrency wallets. More advanced technologies will also protect people from identity theft, phishing and data breaches.
Using facial recognition software for computer verification or building access can provide a level of security for your business. However, a flexible and tailored business-wide security solution is crucial to protect against current and future risks, threats and vulnerabilities.
At City Business Solutions, our IT security services can help you find the appropriate solution to protect your firm. Call us now on 020 3355 7334 to arrange a free consultation.