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Facial Recognition Technology: Pros, Cons and Future Implications

Submitted By: 

Engineers Garage

Just like artificial intelligence, drones, and IoT, facial recognition technology is also defining our millenium. Initially it was only used among military services and It is finally making its way into the mainstream world. Now even the most commonly used devices like our smartphones are making use of facial recognition while cameras are using it for identifying faces that need to be captured for photo. Now, we also have those cameras that recognize faces of pets like dogs and cats. This has also called attention of a number of authorities and regulatory bodies around the world that are examining systems that can recognize criminals even among large crowds. But before weighing its good side with its dark side, let’s understand the definition of this technology.

Fig. 1: Representational Image of Facial Recognition Technology

What Is Facial Recognition Technology?

Facial recognition technology uses biometric software with AI-enabled devices that maps facial features mathematically for identifying various people and registering the same in its database as fingerprint. Its algorithm compares various digital images to confirm your identity. The process of facial recognition is very much similar other identification technologies like fingerprint matching or voice recognition.

Fig. 2: Image Showing How Facial Identification Technology Works

The facial recognition technology makes use of three approaches for facial recognition. It starts from fingerprints scanning, face recognition which then leads to the last step - verification. When used in full gusto, this technology  can even recognize most critical features within given business premise and pick up individual faces from most congested or crowded worksites.

Application

Books and sagas can be written and quoted on applications and possible implications of facial recognition technology. However, for precision we will be discussing only the most important ones here. This technology can be applied in many areas like surveillance, business premises, home security, digital security of confidential information, phone security, and so forth. In short, it will soon become face of security in every aspect.

Now, let’s talk a little about its good and bad side.

Pros

●  Complete Automation: Facial Identification technology can be used for automating the complete identification process. Just pair it up with cameras and you don’t need to hire guards for identifying people. An automated system would eliminate any kind of flaws from the identification process and bring down overall costs, time and money used in it. You can also give a break to those looking into surveillance systems.

●  Higher Accuracy Levels: The precision level of identification systems has further been secured with facial recognition software. Infrared cameras teamed up with 3D facial identification technology allow users to track every corner of their facility and monitor who comes in and goes out.

●  Simple Integration: Designers these days understand the significance of continuously evolution of technologies and software. Therefore, they always leave enough scope in their systems for easy updation and integration with other systems. Every technical environment needs multiple systems that work in sync with each other, even security systems need to coordinate with each other. Almost all facial recognition biometric systems come with an ability to integrate with new software and systems with ease.

Fig. 3: Picture Showing Integration of Facial Identification Technology with Smartphone

●  Eliminates Need for Tactile Sensors: Fingerprint software have proved to be a flawless identification method but it comes with its own flaws. If an individual is suffering with a paper cut or someone has a skin shedding problem, they might find regular biometric system a bit problematic. Also, when the glass gets smudged the system shows flaws. These systems also get affected by hand lotions. Face recognition technology has an upper hand on this system.

●  Fraud-Proof: Almost every identification system comes with its own flaws, however, it is not possible for anyone to get in as someone else or get out of door as someone else. It keeps employees from gaining access to confidential information and also prevents frauds of any kind. It is easy to log in through passwords but biometric systems cannot be falsified.

Fig. 4: Representational Image

●  Better Security: Any organization that is looking forward to beef up their security must invest in biometric face system. This system will pull up your security level and would keep track of everyone who enters or exits your business premises. Anyone who enters without permission will also be identified and would alarm the authorities instantly. This would not only save lots of money that would otherwise be spent on security staff.

Cons

●  Quality: Image quality is of supreme importance in terms of facial recognition. For better quality image you will need an advanced software. When a facial software captures a picture, it compares the face with stored photo and if the picture fails to match it raises an alarm. Thus, quality of image would deeply influence complete identification process. If there is any flaw in this respect, it would give faulted results.

Fig. 5: Image Quality in Facial Recognition Technology 

● Storage and Processing: Storage is the basic requirement in digital environment. Everyone who owns a facial recognition system would need to store lots of data for future prospect. You will need extra space for storing hundreds of low-quality visuals and if the images are high quality then you will need extra space. A lot of time will be wasted with facial recognition technology while processing every single video frame. You will need to set up multiple system for minimizing processing time.

● Surveillance Angle: Identification process often targets the subject of identification under high pressure. In simple terms, you will need to use various angles for enrolling a face via FRT software. Moreover, you would need nothing less than the frontal view for generating a clear face but if you wish to enhance the accuracy of results then you will need higher resolution photos captured from multiple angles. Also, factors like facial hair or sunglasses might lead to ambiguity in results. It leaves loopholes that can be exploited by unwanted intruders.

Fig. 6: Surveillance Angle

●  Physiological Changes: There are a number of physiological changes that might not be registered by facial identification software. Change in hair color, length, weight change or any other major change in appearance can easily throw system off.

What’s in Future?

If you believe the recent projections and stats, the future of this technology is quite bright. Forecasters are of the opinion that this technology would generate revenue worth $9.6 billion in next four years. The areas to witness its deepest influence is border patrolling and homeland security. Other areas that are now welcoming it with open arms are private industries, public buildings, and schools. It is estimated that it will also be adopted by retailers and banking systems in coming years to keep fraud in debit/credit card purchases and payment especially the ones that are online. This technology would fill in the loopholes of inadequate password system.

Conclusion

Facial recognition systems for verification and identity is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no reason to doubt in further evolution of this technology that would further open new doors for growth and development. As this technology would keep on growing, it will pave way to numerous pros, cons as well as moral questions. It would be vital to keep situations under control from time to time. Definitely, it will be a great help in improving efficiency of several systems, for example, you wouldn’t need to waste time in fishing your debit cards. Your face would be sufficient to relate with bank account and get payment done. That would be a big prevention against theft attacks. Facial recognition will also play a significant role in securing data privacy. To a large extent, it will outweigh the problems that are expected to arise on its behalf.