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Facial Recognition Technology and the future

27 September 2019Fun Fact Friday

Face recognition technology used to be the main attraction of every sci-fi movie that we grew up watching. In 2019, this is no longer fiction. The technology has slowly been introduced into people’s daily lives. In this article I’ll be going over ways this technology is being used and how it’s affecting the way we operate our businesses. Benefits, pros and cons and everything in between!

How did we get here?

Two words. Big data. Advances in technical fields have led to the rapid evolution of this technology over the years.

Social media entities such as Instagram, Instagram and Google hold billions of photos of people’s faces which have been put together into gigantic image data archives. They are then used to train neural networks to detect and finally, recognize faces.

And over the past decade, this facial recognition technology has been incorporated into systems and deployed all over the place. With data constantly being reeled in, the tech has helped many companies perfect their technology.

What’s the process look like?

By using an algorithm, the computer learns the face it is detecting. This is done through a neural network that uses a large amount of photos that have faces in known positions. The algorithm is presented with a picture, and it automatically estimates where the face is. The algorithm will improve with time. The more data and faces it scans and “learns”, the faster it’ll be able to make far accurate readings and scans.


The neural network is a fed a series of pictures and starts the learning process. The algorithm kicks in and decides which photo is the best to use in the process. To tell one from another. The technology begins to measure the distance between the nose and mouth, eyes and forehead, and more. A vector is used to read the geometry of a face. From there, the computer ranks likely matches which are of course verified by a human. This is how each person is identified and placed in their very own unique grouping.

And you’re probably wondering, ” but is it accurate? “. The answer is yes. The technology has a very impressive accuracy rate however performance heavily depends on the ideal conditions. If a person turns their head too quickly or the shot is taken under minimal lighting conditions, this will reduce the accuracy.

Who’s using this the most?

As tech firms develop the technology for facial recognition systems, more and more countries are embracing it. China is currently leading the pact with millions of cameras connected to facial recognition software.

Facial Recognition Advertising

More and more companies are collaborating with tech companies and incorporating facial recognition advertising systems in their stores. As an example in the United States of America, the chainstore Walgreens has recently hopped on board. Technology that embeds cameras, and sesors to its cooler doors, creating displays that specifically target ads to individual customers.

What? Yes. The sensors along with the cameras connect to a face-detention technology that can uniquely pick out a customer’s gender, and age and other factors as well ( weather, emotional response). As soon as the algorithm kicks in, the cooler doors act as a responsive marketplace. Kind of like how online advertisements use your information through cookies.


Despite the fact that the technology is bing used for good things such as catching criminals, finding missing people, and medical uses as well, people are skeptical.

As innovative as this technology is, it also brings up questions about what the future holds for us regarding targeted marketing. Where does the line of intrusion exist in our marketplace?

Though still in it’s infancy, tech companies are working hard to perfect the algorithm. Ultimately the goal being being able to identify people wearing masks among other disguises.

Privacy and data protection is what most consumers are worried about, rightly so. Most companies that possess this technology claim that they do not store any data, and can’t track repeated purchases or habits.


As the technology is still in it’s early stages, there is little to no government policy on its use.

Because of this, there are many groups that have called to ban the recognition systems in public spaces as it violates human privacy laws. Police have built up a custody archive of over 20 million people already, most of whom have never been convicted of a crime. These images are then used to create watchlists for use in the facial recognition systems.

The private sector is even more shady. Businesses are simply allowed to decide who goes on secret watchlists and sharing images among other firms.

What the future holds

Despite the concerns, the technology is only growing and slowly becoming part of our society. With our internet browsers and social media already fully integrated with targeted ads, it’s not surprise that advertising companies are always looking to up their game. The ability to advertise and target products in real time to consumers is the step to take things to the next level. Only time will tell how we’ll deal with these oncoming changes.

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