Imagine never having to remember your password again. We’ll say it once more. Never. Instead, you access your devices and apps by simply looking at them.
That’s just one use case being driven by breakthroughs in facial recognition technology, which is capable of identifying or verifying people based on digital or video images. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, facial recognition is “a method of identifying or verifying the identity of an individual using their face.”
Facial recognition is advancing and companies are developing everyday uses that will change our lives. Below are a few ways this technology will impact all of us, complete with examples and words of caution concerning privacy.
- Personal Data Protection — While there’s plenty of debate over whether it is wise to use facial recognition as your password, it’s clearly a technology that’s on the rise with recent rollouts by Samsung and Apple. Opponents argue that human facial features change over time, and today’s systems can be “tricked” with similar facial structures, especially with genetic relatives. As the technology improves, it will be an increasingly popular tool that augments existing data security practices, helping people protect their privacy—and forget their passwords.
- Air Travel — Facial recognition is already gaining traction in airports worldwide, supplementing boarding passes. It may even replace them entirely in the future. The main benefits anticipated are increased speed and better security. The technology can cut passenger boarding times in half, and thanks to the latest in biometrics can more accurately identify and verify people before they get on the plane. Expect to see more facial recognition solutions at airports worldwide with plans or pilot programs already in place in Japan, Korea, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., including at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta and Dallas–Fort Worth international airports. In fact, Delta Air Lines recently debuted a facial recognition terminal on November 29th at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, the first in the United States.
- Shopping — Facial recognition is transforming the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience with new systems. These systems can not only recognize returning customers, but also use predictive analytics to provide personalized touches and in-store engagements that are more in line with today’s digital shopping experience. The result is driving new retail business models that blend the online and physical worlds to create a hybrid shopping experience for customers.
Facial recognition is also being used to eliminate car and hotel room keys, help diagnose diseases, and assist law enforcement.
But the technology is still being improved upon.
A recent Gizmodo article highlighted a case gone wrong in China where a facial recognition surveillance system in the city of Ningbo caught a women jaywalking. In reality, a bus was driving by with an advertisement featuring a woman, which the technology mistook as a jaywalker.
This incident is a reminder that technology alone is not perfect. The possibility for mistakes could even lead to cases of racial and gender bias. This requires adopters of the technology to practice transparency and openness as facial recognition becomes mainstream.