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5 most common uses of facial recognition

The use of facial recognition technology has increased dramatically in the last few years with new products and applications being conceived and released every day. Once science fiction, this exciting and strong area of growth is quickly becoming a real-world reality.

At NEC, we’ve been leading the field in facial recognition technology since the late 1980s and have contributed to its many advancements throughout the years. A lot has changed in that time, so we thought we’d list the 5 most common uses of facial recognition to demonstrate just how widespread and vital this form of technology has become.

1. Smartphones and smart technology

A big consumer area where facial recognition systems are being implemented is smartphones and other forms of smart technology. The first and most well-known example came in September 2017 when Apple unveiled the iPhone X and Face ID allowing the owner to use their own face to unlock their phone. The feature captivated the crowds and quickly became a standard feature for the premium smartphones of other companies like Huawei, Samsung, LG and OnePlus. Facial recognition has also become prevalent in other forms of smart technology such as smart TVs. These products work in conjunction with voice recognition and gesture control, allowing users to control their TVs without the need of a remote control.

2. Social media and apps

Facial recognition is heavily utilised by social media companies and app developers in some clever and convenient ways. Facebook were one of the early adopters, utilising facial recognition to identify Facebook users in photos that were uploaded and shared. SnapChat found a lot of success using facial recognition to increase the social engagement in a users’ photos by adding filters that would allow them to change their own facial features and appearance (with hairstyles, hats, dog ears etc). The number of apps using facial recognition is growing exponentially through social apps like Bitmoji and MojiPop, facilitating the creation of stickers and avatars. Functional apps have also been created such as FaceLock and AppLock Face enabling users secure their apps through facial recognition technology.

3. Policing and national security

Another area where facial recognition is having a profound influence is in law enforcement agencies with policing, prevention and security. Video surveillance systems all around the world are now being installed with face recognition systems and linked to biometrics data and criminal databases. This allows these agencies, for instance, to scan surveillance camera footage in real-time and identify if there are any known criminals or persons of interest in crowd situations. An example of this can be found at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium in Medellin, Colombia. NEC installed the intelligent surveillance solution, NeoFace® Watch, in the stadiums existing security camera infrastructure. This facial recognition system scanned the faces of fans entering the stadium with alerts for any known troublemakers. The system and its alerts work so quickly that such troublemakers can be stopped at the point of entry making it a crucial preventative measure. It has allowed for a much safer and more stable environment at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium which can seat up to 40,000 spectators.

4. Retail and Advertising

There are also huge commercial opportunities being seized with respect to advertising. A good example of this can be found in the Philippines where a start-up, AdMov, installed tablets in taxis with facial recognition technology. Based on an individual’s appearance and mood, the software can select the most appropriate advertisements to display. Furthermore, by tracking eyeball movements of the passengers, AdMov can tell when a passenger becomes disengaged and can change its programme and strategy accordingly. In South Africa, the coffee company Douwe Egberts delivered a great campaign with a coffee machine at Tambo International Airport. Using facial recognition technology, they programmed the machine to dispense a free cup of coffee every time someone walked by yawning. Needless to say, it was a big hit and the story got worldwide attention.

5. Access Control

Another big area where facial recognition is widely being used is in access control. Many people have already experienced this at border control in most international airports that have ePassport Gates. Border agencies have programmed these gates to match biometric data and passport photos to the human faces in front of them. This allows a quick and seamless transition through passport control saving thousands of hours (if not more) of what would otherwise be manual processing. Access control using facial recognition is also being used by an increasing number of companies all around the world for improving security as well as enhancing the customer experience. A prime example of this can be seen in hospitality like Lemon Tree Hotels in India. Using NEC’s NeoFace® Watch, Lemon Tree Hotels have been able to utilise facial recognition technology to identify guests before they’ve even stepped in the hotel. Automatic alerts to reception for example, tells them who is entering the hotel so that they can provide an enhanced customer experience with a personal welcome and speed up or automate the check-in process. Similarly, alerts can be sent to hotel security when the approaching individual is matched to a watch list that may require a different course of action by the hotel. As the third-largest hotel chain in India, facial recognition has enabled Lemon Tree Hotels to add another layer of service and security for its guests in a busy and bustling environment within a market that is extremely competitive.

Facial recognition is the future

As you can see, facial recognition is already being used and integrated into daily aspects of our lives. It is a technology that is here to be embraced and one that will continue to be used in innovative and exciting ways.


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