Until recently, the use of facial recognition technology was limited to scientists and security professionals. However, today it has prominent business applications. Facial recognition, a form of applied machine learning, can be used to detect and identify human faces. This opens up exciting new opportunities for governments and businesses. Here, we will look at the evolution of facial recognition technology over the years, how it works, and the most important benefits of the technology for businesses.
How Facial Recognition Has Evolved Over the Years
Although this technology has gotten media attention only recently, facial recognition has been around for some time now. It all started in 2001 with the study of Viola-Jones Object Detection Framework, the first scientific study relating to the use of algorithms in detecting faces. The framework provided in the study was immediately applied to face detection with considerable success.
The speed of the algorithm presented in the 2001 study helped it to become popular. Although training the algorithm was time-consuming and often excruciating, it became popular because it had an extremely fast detection process.
This algorithm was used in scientific studies and by some government agencies between 2001 and 2004. The computers that ran this algorithm were able to detect faces in .07 seconds. This was considered very fast at the time. The only negative point about this algorithm was that it was less accurate than humans in detecting and identifying faces, albeit by only 10%.
The world had to wait another six years before any real progress was made in facial recognition. This came in the shape of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) in 2010. CNNs are still used because they are the best way to perform facial detection.
The success of these networks is due to the availability of massive storage space and raw processing power made possible by Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers through cloud computing. Today, facial recognition technology is at a level where humans can’t match up with it in recognizing faces, especially if the task involves a significant number of random faces.
How Facial Recognition Technology Works
Facial recognition is a technology that performs biometric identification or verification by examining the subject’s facial characteristics. To do this, facial recognition may use 3D facial recognition, consult 2D images, or look at specific algorithms that relate to the distances between features.
Facial recognition technology works in four stages: detection/tracking, alignment, feature extraction, and feature matching and classification. In the detection/tracking stage, facial recognition identifies and tracks in a given image or video file. The alignment stage informs where the face lines are in the given image or video file. It also details the contours for the facial features.
In the feature extraction stage, the extraction of individual facial features such as lips, eyes, chin, nose, etc. is done to allow algorithms to use them in the next stage. In the fourth and final stage, the algorithms received from the extraction stage are compared to the database provided to infer the person’s identity.
How Facial Recognition Technology Benefits Businesses
There are many business applications of facial recognition technology. Following are some of the ways facial recognition technology can benefit businesses.
Users of the multimedia messaging app Snapchat can now choose their own privacy setting for photographs thanks to the company’s use of facial recognition technology. The facial recognition system of Snapchat scans faces in images to determine which ones to block to ensure privacy.
The facial recognition system uses an emoji to block out the selected faces. Snapchat’s facial recognition is enabled when the account of a user is set to a specified setting. The same technology can be used by businesses to protect the privacy of their people.
A facial recognition app that Android users can download to their phones, Smart Lock allows smartphone users to unlock their phones by holding it up to their faces. iPhone users can do the same using the Face ID app developed by Apple for iOS. By using this technology, businesses can protect their devices with sensitive information.
The Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba is currently working towards integrating AliPay, its payment service, with facial recognition technology. The integration of Alipay with facial recognition means that now customers can now make purchases from Alibaba without having to provide their credit/debit card details or other sensitive information. This is truly a breakthrough development, as it will help to significantly reduce the risks of theft and fraud for businesses worldwide.
4. Employee Productivity
The productivity of businesses often suffers because employees are not doing their jobs honestly. They may loiter around the workplace when the manager is not in sight or they may spend hours on their computers ‘Facebooking’ or watching YouTube video instead of doing their work on it.
If the manager is on holiday and there’s no other supervisor in place, they may ask an office pal to punch in their attendance while they chill at home. However, unless a manager constantly watches over their team, they will never know. So, what’s the next best thing you can do? Using facial recognition technology for employee attendance. With facial recognition technology, employers and managers can make sure that employees can time-in only when they are physically present at the workplace.
Not only that, facial recognition technology that is installed on the work desks of individual employees will allow you to know how many hours they actually worked and how much time was wasted. Although we may have to wait a few years, maybe more, before the use of facial recognition on office becomes common, the practice will completely change how employees work and take productivity levels to a whole new level.
Facial recognition is a breakthrough technology in every sense of the word. To keep up-to-date with the latest in facial recognition technology, keep following us.
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