Facial Recognition Technology: Trends, Working Principles, and Woes

By | January 5, 2021
Facial Recognition Technology: Trends, Working Principles, and Woes

As technology keeps advancing and the Internet makes its way to every aspect of human lives, more personal information is shared. This information is used for connecting friends and family, serving ads, and even personalizing services. With regards to security, personal details such as retina shape, fingerprint details, and facial appearance can now be used for device security and access control.

Working Principle of the Technology

In modern facial recognition systems, the camera works hand in hand with software to detect faces in an image or video and identify certain facial characteristics. Some of these include:

  • distance between both eyes;
  • distance from the forehead to the chin;
  • distance between pores;
  • wrinkles;
  • the shape of the head, etc.

All these physical characteristics are then bundled together and computed to form a facial signature. This signature is a mathematical formula that is stored in a database and is used for comparison when another facial image is to be identified.

Trends and Use Cases of Facial Recognition Technology

This technology has found its use in several sectors of human lives. Explained below are a couple of them:

  • Security: Law enforcement agencies and border security in several developed countries have started using this technology in enforcing law and order. For border security, however, this technology gives an added advantage for commuters, especially at airports to check-in and board with ease. The Hong Kong government has also mounted CCTV cameras around its city for surveillance. This however sparked outrage among Hong Kong citizens.
  • Mobile Devices: Biometric security began with the use of fingerprint technology which was widely accepted. The need for a more efficient, secure, and easy way to secure mobile devices led to the inclusion of facial recognition technology in the security features on smartphones. In addition, facial recognition technology is used in many photo apps and social media to automatically detect the faces of people in a photo.
  • Health: Facial recognition technology has been included in health services to enable health practitioners to diagnose their patients virtually. These applications can detect if the patient is taking their drugs properly and if they are responding to treatments. In addition, facial recognition software has been developed to detect genetic diseases and a very good example is DiGeorge Syndrome.

The downside of Facial Recognition Technology

The use of this technology, as with any other development that is powered by data, comes with its downsides which is the respect for privacy. Private and government organizations, in their bid to acquire more images for training their machines, go against regulations surrounding the acquisition and use of data. There are also lots of grey areas in these laws which are exploited quite often.

For users, although it isn’t always possible to hide away from this technology, we can take other precautions against spying by the government, such as securing your traffic with a VPN. Aside from this, careful and paramount attention should be paid to privacy policies. It is well-known knowledge that users often accept terms and conditions without going through them and this is absolutely bad for data security.


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