Facial recognition is getting more interesting and useful


Face recognition technology is a powerful tool that can be used for both good and bad purposes. In my post I will present 10 situations in which it can be useful.

  1. Catching criminals

No matter how serious the wrongdoing they may be, criminals who are held in a prison in Hennepin County, Minnesota, must provide a scan of their face . The facial recognition system introduced this year has already been used about 80 times, of which it has scored 32 hits. A similar system is used in Los Angeles and other countries around the United States.

  1. Obtaining information on who is entering the country

The US Department of State has been expanding its portrait photography database since 2004, which now has 75 million photos. Before 2018, these data are to be used for issuing visas, which is to help protect the country from terrorists and criminals.

For a similar purpose, the FBI checks over 412 million photos. The database contains photos obtained from driving licenses, visas and passport centers, as well as prisons and other institutions across America.

  1. Tracking down digital ID thieves

Since 2008, the US Department of Automotive Industry (DMV) has been using facial recognition  to search for criminals who steal someone else’s identity to obtain a driver’s license. Using a similar system, Indiana had cut this type of fraud in half in two years.

  1. Finding the missing

Have you ever heard of the Helping Faceless project ? It is supported by Ericsson with the aim of returning lost children to their families and stopping child trafficking.

It works as follows: using a special application, adults take pictures of children asking for money in the streets. These photos are then automatically uploaded to the project’s servers, where the facial recognition system tries to match them with photos that are already there. This data is also shared with verified non-governmental organizations that can help such children.

  1. Wake up sleeping driver

Have you ever seen huge trucks like those used in mining from Caterpillar? They are so big that they can easily crush a passenger car – and the driver will feel only a slight shock. Imagine what would happen if someone fell asleep behind the wheel of such a giant!

These giants work 24/7 with some drivers working night shifts, increasing the risk of fatigue-related accidents. To overcome this problem, Caterpillar has started using facial recognition .

A special program measures signs of fatigue such as the driver’s eyes closing or the position in which he holds his head. If the software detects any signs of excessive fatigue, it activates an audible alarm in the truck and sends a video of the driver’s video to the Caterpillar 24 Hour Center. If necessary, the safety advisor sends the tired driver to a nap or see a doctor to treat sleep disturbances. This software will be installed on thousands of vehicles around the world.

  1. Help in prosopagnosia

For humans, recognizing faces is not a reflex, but an acquired skill. We learn from childhood to distinguish other people from one another , but not all are equally good at this task. Some people suffer from a cognitive impairment, a  prosopagnosis that prevents them from recognizing familiar faces (including their own or relatives).

The development of facial recognition systems works to the benefit of patients suffering from this disorder. Some wearable devices (like smart glasses) can use facial recognition to keep a diary of everyone with whom we communicate, so it can display the person’s name and a brief relationship history.

  1. Protection of compulsive gamblers

In 2011, the Lottery Ontario and Gaming Corporation  decided to help compulsive gamblers who need support in their fight against addiction to Ottawa’s gambling center, Rideau Carleton Raceway.

The program compares people recorded on track recordings that are performed 24 hours a day with a database of people who reported the need to help stop them from gambling. When the system finds a given person, it sends relevant information to the security guards, who discreetly lead them out.

  1. Preventing minors from buying cigarettes and alcohol

In 2007, Japan tried to use facial recognition technology  to prevent adolescents from acquiring alcohol from vending machines. Using an on-board camera, the machines analyzed a number of characteristics, including the number of wrinkles, bone structure, and skin appearance, to distinguish adolescents from adults.

Juveniles quickly realized that they could use an adult photo, thus bypassing the system. A year later, the British sales network Budgens  introduced a similar system in one of its supermarkets, the purpose of which was to recognize children among people buying alcohol. In the absence of further information, it can be assumed that the idea has failed.

10 years have passed since then, and many technological flaws have disappeared. At Mobile World Congress 2016, MasterCard unveiled a new self-photo recognition system that cannot be fooled by an ordinary photo – or so the authors of the project say. As this technology develops, facial recognition will help overcome these problems. However, at present the technology is not yet perfect, so it is not yet possible to say how reliable it is.

  1. Greetings to regular customers

The facial recognition system requires high maintenance costs, as it consists of special software, a set of good quality cameras, servers and other infrastructure. Fortunately, prices are falling over time. Marketing specialists promise that we will soon see such solutions in cafes, hotels, amusement parks and other public places.

Some hotels have already started research  into how facial recognition works. Such a system was used, for example, by the Universal Studios Japan hotel (Osaka, Japan) two years ago. He informs the security guards that a known shoplifter has just entered the hotel premises – or informs the lobby staff when a regular customer has arrived.

10 interesting designs using face recognition

  1. Organize your photos

However, the technology is most often used differently: for example, Apple ,  Google and Facebook  use their own recognition systems to identify people against the landscape, find the user in a photo, and sort photos by category.

The examples mentioned above are only a few examples of what facial recognition technology can be used for. The faster it develops, the more amazing and interesting our world will be. Although it should be remembered that this technology can also be used for some unflattering purposes, which we will write about soon.