Since the inception of facial recognition technology, the world is split into two opinions; whether it is has more benefits or risks. With the employment of this technology in various walks of life, there have also been public concerns regarding individual breach of privacy.
The developers of this technology are working on these concerns to make its functions safer and better.
If you look at the all the technological breakthroughs in the past, we will find that similar concerns have been raised, due to the double-edged sword that ideas are. But the reality is that it doesn’t depend on the technology, but on the people, who use it.
There is a meeting point where the benefits of facial recognition System outnumber that of its demerits. However, the intensity of the few demerits it has, might prove to be more. Hence, it is crucial to delve into the nuances of this technology and find ways to prevent the misuse of facial recognition technology.
Facial Recognition Overview
Facial recognition is a technology used for matching an individual’s face from a captured image or video frame against a database of faceprints. If the facial features of the individual measured from the image mathematically are the same as one of the options in the database, a match is found.
Facial recognition software uses deep learning algorithms which are trained using datasets to identify database faceprint accurately against the digitally captured faceprint. This biometric technology is used for ID verification and authentication.
How Facial Recognition Works?
If you are wondering how does facial recognition technology work, data scientists create facial recognition models while following ethics of facial recognition technology that are used in the software.
The technology behind facial recognition is deep learning that uses artificial neural networks similar to that in human brain to process data and create filters. These filters transform facial features on images into numerical expressions.
The facial features image or video captured are converted to numerical expressions or faceprints. These are matched to the one present in pre-existing database to check for similarity. Based on the similarity score, different images of the same person can be automatically matched.
Who Uses Facial Recognition?
Facial recognition is primarily used in the following cases:
- Law enforcement agencies for security
- Phones for unlocking
- Banking for KYC (Know your customer)
- Social media for tagging people
- Retail for shopping convenience
- Airport for faster check-ins
Other uses of facial recognition technology are in automobiles to recognize drivers, schools and offices to mark attendance, and advertising agencies to understand human emotions.
Facial Recognition Examples
Uses of facial recognition technology include:
- Smile detection app
Listerine, a mouthwash brand, launched a mobile app that detects a smile in Ireland, UK, and Germany for blind people. If detected, beeps and vibrations alert the person that they are being smiled at, thereby helping them be more aware in a social setting.
- Find missing people
In New Delhi, police identified about 3000 children within four days of using facial recognition technology. The system was being run as a part of a trial and it helped them reunite children with their families.
- Identity check selfie
Mastercard introduced Identity Check Mobile for cardholders a few years ago. It made it possible for customers to take a selfie on their phone for easy identity authentication with the merchants and card networks during shopping.
- Ensure premises security
In countries like China and India, many businesses use facial recognition to allow or deny entry to office lobbies. It is also used to ensure the security of apartments and homes.
Benefits of Face Recognition Technology
- Predictive Aging
- Face ID
- Facial Reconstruction
It is fairly evident that facial recognition technology has numerous benefits. While the concern is security, it can become the vaccine of the very disease it is alleged to bear. Its usage for enhancing security is being adopted by everyone, from a smartphone manufacturer to top government agencies.
It has also been seen that without the use of technology like free facial recognition software, the costs in the sector would multiply manifold while providing less success. With the amalgamation of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, this technology can do wonders and even save lives.
Some of its many benefits include identification, verification, mapping, designing and much more. Given below are a few ways this technology is breaking barriers and making our lives easier.
Recently an app had created a lot of hype in the market. It is a free online facial recognition software and can predict how people will age. However, free facial recognition software and other tools are already being employed in identification of missing people, especially children and the elderly, who were lost years ago.
Predictive aging employs external data fed into the system, i.e. facial features and integrates AI mapping algorithms to predict the closest possible outcome.
It has been tested by taking the picture of an aged subject and running the predictive aging (de-aging in this case) software. Then the picture is compared with a picture taken when the subject was young. The results proved to be much more accurate than a sketch artist’s rendition based upon their understanding and imagination.
We tried to put this technique to test by using one of the free facial recognition software and came up with astonishing results. We took an old photograph of the actor, Ian McKellen (who played the iconic role of Gandalf and Magneto), when he was young and run the predictive age software. This is what we got:
With or without this technology, there are enough crimes being committed worldwide. Sometimes, witnesses and victims need to identify people from blurry CCTV footage or ATM cameras. This technology can help provide details to the facial features so that they’re more identifiable and can help in catching the bad guys.
Before we start discussing this, have a look at this video:
Yes. That is not Keanu Reeves; arguably the best human being in the entire world. This is some random person with his face replaced by Keanu.
Deepfake allows to put face on a face and employs the AI mechanism, where thousands of pictures of a person is taken at different angles and with different expressions. This ensures that image is smartly rendered and put on a different person.
This technique is quite helpful in the film industry as it provides creators the liberty to experiment with animations and work uninterruptedly even when the actor isn’t available.
One of the first instances of Deepfake was seen in Fast and Furious 7 when Paul Walker passed away in a car accident and the filmmakers decided to use his pictures to digitally recreate his face and put it on his brothers’ face.
Accidents happen and there is nothing we can do to stop them from happening. However, we can definitely minimise its effect after it has happened. Facial recognition technology can help in reconstructing faces which have been damaged due to accidents.
With this technology, plastic and cosmetic surgeries can see a new horizon, where small details such as wrinkles and birthmarks can be replicated, and the face can be reconstructed more accurately.
How Accurate Is Facial Recognition?
Under ideal conditions, the most accurate facial recognition algorithms provide an LFW (Labeled Faces in the Wild) accuracy of over 99.5 percent. This stats is validated as per reports from the US-based agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
However, it is challenging to achieve such accuracy in the real world even with new facial recognition technology. Some of the factors that affect facial recognition technology (FRT) are:
- Partial facial coverings
Masks, which became common during the pandemic, make it difficult for facial recognition systems to identify individuals accurately since half of the face gets covered. Facial recognition algorithms need further learnings to accurately identify individuals in such situations. Other changes like spectacles and beard can also impact accuracy.
- Image resolution
Depending on surveillance camera quality, the resolution of captured images for different facial recognition technology uses may vary which makes it difficult to ensure an accurate match with database images. Lighting conditions, distance and angle of the individual’s face from the camera are other reasons that change accuracy.
Over the time, the skin texture of an individual changes due to ageing. Changes in face shape and wrinkles make it difficult for facial recognition algorithms to detect a person and verify him or her correctly.
Furthermore, biases in training data due to higher weightage to certain elements in dataset can result in accuracy errors. More learnings with various datasets and other technological improvements can further improve the accuracy of algorithms.
Facial Recognition Pros and Cons
It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of facial recognition technology before using it.
The benefits of facial recognition technology (FRT) are:
- FRT can help in identification of criminals, thereby lowering crime rates and improving safety.
- New facial recognition technology needs lesser processing compared to other biometric methods like Iris authentication.
- FRT is a contactless method of identifying individuals and hence reduces the chance of spreading diseases.
- Accurate FRT can save time with quick identification and automated authentication during airport check-ins.
- This technology can decrease manual errors in checking IDs and help prevent fraud.
- Face recognition can help in finding missing people by predicting their older versions and matching them against potential options in real time.
- Face recognition technology can be used in the detection of genetic disorders in some cases.
The cons of facial recognition technology (FRT) are:
- It is not fully accurate in real world situations, as of now
- Best FRTs with the most accurate algorithms are highly expensive
- Difficult to create a global database due to separate data storage and processing regulations in various nations
- Hackers can get access to sensitive information of individuals
- It is a threat to privacy and can be misused by government agencies if ethics of facial recognition technology are not kept in mind.
Facial Recognition Software: Avoiding the Potential for Misuse
There are various gadgets and technologies that can potentially change the course of the future and initiate an Orwellian society. There are already mechanisms employed which suggest a future which is quite not far, such as tracking people and keeping record of humans at all times.
From video streaming services to the GPS in our cars; all our actions and activities are being monitored. And we are not being forced to do this. We are voluntarily providing all our information.
So, if we keep putting recognition technology into this scenario, it might further disturb the already perilous ecosystem. For instance, with the help of Deepfake, one can superimpose someone else’s face over theirs and get away with crimes, while someone else falls prey to it.
However, with the help of technology, you can also demystify these techniques and make things right, again. Today, you can easily get facial recognition software free online. There should be a regulatory body employed, so that it cannot be misused.
Reducing Risks, Raising Rewards
While there are potential risks in the deployment of this technology, the risks can be mitigated with licensing and providing proper channels for the usage and distribution. These techniques need to be employed and the processed images on servers should be discreet and be deleted or archived once their function is over.
All technologies come with their own set of merits and demerits. It is crucial to address and minimise the demerits while also putting efforts to augment the benefits. In the end, it depends what you want to do with free facial recognition software. Therefore, blaming it on a technology instead of the people who misuse it is unwise.
- How does facial recognition work?
Facial recognition works by using computer-generated filters to convert facial features to numerical expressions for similarity comparison.
- What is the problem with facial recognition?
Facial recognition is not fully accurate and there are demographic differences. Also, there are risks of privacy breaches and misuse.
- What is an example of facial recognition?
An example of facial recognition is using your face ID to unlock your smartphone, such as in iPhones.
- How do I use Google face recognition?
Go to Google Images Search. Enter your image via URL or upload it from your device. The image will be matched against the online database to show similar images.
- Can I search someone by photo?
Yes. You can paste an image URL or upload an image on this link to get visually similar images.
- How do you Google search a picture of someone?
You can use Google Lens to search for a picture of someone by uploading an image and selecting the face of the person in it. Google will display similar and related information.
- How does facial recognition technology work?
Facial recognition technology works through deep learning models. These models compare the unique measurements of each face and facial features to match them with faces pre-existing in the database.
- Which technology is used for face detection?
AI-based computer technology is used for face detection. Computer algorithms are used to identify faces in a picture based on previous learnings acquired via datasets.
- Is facial recognition a technology?
Yes, facial recognition is a technology that comes under biometric security and ensures identity validation through face detection.
- Is facial recognition An AI technology?
Yes, face recognition is an AI technology. It extracts faces from images and video frames to authenticate individuals through ML-based deep learning models.