Your face says a lot more about you than you might think. A study from Stanford has shown that one’s sexual orientation can be accurately determined using facial recognition. In China, it’s even being used to read the facial expressions of loan applicants to assess their likelihood of repayment.
The confluence of cheap cameras, networking technologies and developments in AI makes it possible for facial recognition technology to be used widely and to great effect.
The facial recognition market is worth approximately US $3 billion and is expected to grow to US $6 billion by 2021, with the Asia Pacific Region projected to grow at the highest rate during this period. While the growth is mainly due to increases in government surveillance efforts, there are a plethora of uses for facial recognition technology that businesses can capitalise on. It can be used to obtain demographic data, determine interest and the emotional state of individuals in real-time, which helps explain the predicted doubling of the market value over the next few years.
For many services that we use, identifying who you are is a necessity. Every time you go to the doctor, to the bank or even make a purchase, there’s a record of you being involved in some sort of interaction. The data already exists. Facial recognition is one technology we can use to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the identification process and increase customisation and personalisation of services and customer interactions. This is mainly due to the customer identification process taking place before the customer interacts with a service provider, saving both parties time.
Anyone who has used the SmartGate at Australian Airport customs can attest to the value of that facial recognition technologies can provide. Instead of having to have to speak to a customs officer who goes through the necessary formalities, the SmartGate scans your passport and face, confirms that you are indeed who your passport says you are, and lets you through. Breezing through customs is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
How does it work?
Your face is unique. The dimensions of your face and the distance between its features is unique only to you (it can even tell twins apart). Just like your fingerprints, it can be used as means of biometrically validating your identity.
While facial recognition techniques can vary, here’s a brief explanation of how it works:
- A picture of a face is captured.
- Algorithms extract the coordinates of specific facial features (eyes, nose, jaw, etc) and measures the relative position, size, and shape of them (facial metrics).
- This is data is compared to information in a database.
- A determination is made.
Here are some ways that facial recognition tech could be implemented in a variety of industries:
- Tracking student engagement and understanding
- Notifies your health care provider that you have arrived instead of having to check in
- Alert venue managers when someone who has displayed aggressive behaviour in the past has arrived
- Identify people who are overly intoxicated
- Customer identification
- Monitor customer interest levels as they peruse goods
- Capture the emotions and reactions of the audience as they consume content
Facial Recognition and Government Services
We worked in collaboration with Hitachi Vantara to aid the Department of Human Services in simplifying their service delivery using robotics and facial recognition technology. The resulting solution could save upwards of 5–10 seconds per visitor.
It’s easy to see how these time savings can add up, considering the DHS handles upwards of 21 million visits per year.
Each visit requires some interaction at a kiosk to determine who is visiting and why.
This has conventionally been completed by a DHS employee or at a self-service kiosk.
Hitachi has a humanoid robot called the Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate (EMIEW3) that could improve the efficiency of this process. It can be programmed to work as a concierge for new and existing users of the DHS with the added benefit of learning new and evolving policies of the DHS — which can be scaled to as many locations as needed, instantly. This benefit alone can result in staggering time savings.
All technologies are tools. They are not inherently good or bad, however, their use can be characterised as such. While facial recognition technology undoubtedly brings up Orwellian privacy concerns (see Australia’s mass surveillance concerns), the utility it can provide should not be understated. The important questions are how is the data being stored, used and who has access to it. For better or for worse, it’s here to stay.
We’ve explored the capabilities of facial recognition technology and that it can increase service delivery efficiency and effectiveness substantially. The ability for service providers to identify a customer and to take into account their emotions, their attentiveness levels and other factors in real time empowers them to provide a personalised experience that was nearly impossible just a few years ago. Everyone wins.