Nowadays facial recognition systems become more and more popular. They are used by many companies, as well as certain countries as a way of detecting citizens. But how does facial recognition work?
Facial recognition is defined as a biometric software application with the ability of identifying a person by comparing their facial structure and patterns with data stored in a database. Every person has a unique facial pattern, and when other humans may not be able to easily distinguish it, software applications are capable of doing it within seconds. There are four steps that the software uses to recognise someone’s face.
Firstly, the camera will detect and recognize a face of a certain person, either when the person is alone, or in a crowd. Before there was a problem that occurred when the camera was not pointed directly at the front of the face, but nowadays the algorithm learned to deal with that issue.
Secondly, the photo of the face is taken and analysed. The software analyses over 80 facial features that differ from person to person, which are referred to as nodal points. Some of those features are obvious, such as shape of the eyes, but some of them are a lot more difficult to distinguish, for example distance between the eyes, shape and height of the cheekbones, or width of the nose.
After that, the analysis of the face is turned into lines of code and mathematical formulas. The features become numbers, and the code is referred to as faceprint. Just like with thumbprint, each person has unique faceprint.
After the code is obtained, it is compared with database of faceprints. The databases have millions of photos with necessary information. For example, the FBI has access to over 641 million photos. That includes 21 state databases, such as DMV, which are state level agencies that administer vehicle registration and driver licencing. The FBI also has access to Facebook’s databases, which store millions of photos tagged with person’s name. The software identifies matching information with data provided by databases. It then returns the match with attached personal information, such as name, age, address or even friends and family.
So where is facial recognition used? As you can probably imagine, there are great advantages of using the software in security purposes. Many airports all around the world use it to identify potential dangers. Facial recognition is also used in device security. Many new phones offer a possibility to use your face to unlock the phone, instead of using a pin code or symbol.
As you can probably guess, there are many ongoing controversies concerning facial recognition. Some people claim that it is an invasion of privacy. Other claim that it doesn’t work properly or can be easily deceived. The main concern surrounding facial recognition is that the data gathered by the software and stored in databases might get leaked or simply hacked and used with malicious intent.
In conclusion, facial recognition technology brings lots of possibilities in terms of safety and security, as long as the data itself stays secure. The possible misuses of such data are endless and might cause a serious danger in the future.