Significant advances have been made in this area.
Thanks to deep learning and face analysis, it is already possible to:
- track a patient's use of medication more accurately
- detect genetic diseases such as
DiGeorge syndrome with a success rate of 96.6%
- support pain management procedures.
3. Marketing and retail
This area is certainly the one where the use of facial recognition was least expected. And yet quite possibly it promises the most. Know Your Customer (KYC) is sure to be a hot topic in 2020. This important trend is being combined with the latest marketing advances in customer experience.
By placing cameras in retail outlets, it is now possible to analyze the behavior of shoppers and improve the customer purchase process.
Like the system recently designed by
Facebook, sales staff are provided with customer information taken from their social media profiles to produce expertly customized responses.
The American department store
Saks Fifth Avenue is already using such a system.
Amazon GO stores are reportedly using it.
How long before the selfie payment?
Since 2017, KFC, the American king of fried chicken, and Chinese retail and tech giant Alibaba have been testing a face recognition payment solution in Hangzhou, China.
#4 Mapping of new users
While the United States currently offers the largest market for face recognition opportunities, the
Asia-Pacific region is seeing the fastest growth in the sector. China and India lead the field.
Face recognition in China
Face recognition technology is the new hot topic in China, from banks and airports to police.
Now authorities are expanding the facial recognition
sunglasses program as police are beginning to use them in the outskirts of Beijing.
China is also setting up and perfecting a video surveillance network countrywide.
Over 200 million surveillance cameras were in use at the end of 2018, and 626 million are expected by 2020. The facial recognition towers in Chinese cities are emblematic of this move.
This is linked to the social credit system the Chinese government
In the TOP 10 cities with most street cameras per person, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Ji’nan are leading the pack.
London is #6 and Atlanta #10, according to
the Guardian of 2 December 2019.
Chinese police are working with artificial intelligence companies such as Yitu, Megvii, SenseTime, and CloudWalk, according to
The New York Times of 14 April 2019.
China's ambitions in AI (and facial recognition technology) are high. The country aims to become a world leader in AI by 2030.
Facial recognition in Asia
Facial recognition will be a major topic for the
2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (Japan). This technology will be used to identify authorized persons and grant them access automatically, enhancing their experience and safety.
In Sydney, face recognition is
undergoing trials at airports to help move people through security much faster and in a safer way.
In India, the Aadhaar project is the largest biometric database in the world. It already provides a unique digital identity number to 1.25 billion residents. UIDAI, the authority in charge, announced that
facial authentication will be launched by
September 15, 2018. Face authentication will be available as an add-on service in fusion mode along with one more authentication factor like fingerprint, Iris, or OTP.
India could also roll-out the world's
most extensive face recognition system in 2020.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has issued an
RFP inviting bids to develop a nationwide facial recognition system. According to the 160-page document, the system will be a centralized web application hosted at the NCRB Data Center in Delhi. It will be available for access to all the police stations.
It will automatically identify people from CCTV videos and images. The Bureau states that it will help police catch criminals, find missing people, and identify dead bodies.
Other large projects
In Brazil, the Superior Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral) is involved in a nationwide biometric data collection project. The aim is to create a biometric database and unique ID cards by 2020, recording the information of 140 million citizens.
In Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, and
Burkina Faso have chosen Thales to meet the challenges of biometric identity to uniquely identify voters in particular.
Russia's Central Bank has been deploying a country-wide program since 2017 designed to collect faces, voices, iris scans, and fingerprints. But the process is progressing very slowly according to the
Biometricupdate website of 13 March 2019.
The city of
Moscow claims one of the world’s largest network of 160,000 surveillance cameras by the end of 2019 and are to be fitted with facial recognition technology for public safety.
The roll-out started in January 2020.
Russian law does not regulate non-consensual face detection and analysis.
#5 When face recognition strengthens the legal system
The ethical and societal challenge posed by data protection is radically affected by the use of facial recognition technologies.
Do these technological feats, worthy of science-fiction novels, genuinely threaten our freedom?
And with it, our anonymity?
EU and UK biometric data protection
In Europe and the UK, the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides a rigorous framework for these practices. Any investigations into a citizen's private life or business travel habits are out of the question, and any such invasions of privacy carry severe penalties.
Applicable from May 2018, the GDPR supports the principle of a harmonized European framework, in particular protecting the right to be forgotten and the giving of consent through clear affirmative action. This directive is bound to have international repercussions.
Yes, you read it well.
There's now one law for 500 million people.
U.S. biometric data protection landscape
In America, the State of Washington was the third US state (after Illinois and Texas) to formally protect biometric data through a new law introduced in June 2017.
California is now the fourth state as of January 2020.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) passed in June 2018 and effective as of 1 January 2020 will have a serious impact for
privacy rights and consumer protection not only for residents of California but for the whole nation as the law is frequently presented as a model for a federal data privacy law.
In that sense,
the CCPA has the potential to become as consequential as the GDPR.
In July 2018, Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s president, compared the face recognition technology to products like medicines that are highly regulated, and he urged Congress to study it and oversee its use.
More recently, in May 2019, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voiced her "absolute" concerns in a recent
Committee Hearing on facial recognition Technology (Impact on our Civil Rights and Liberties).
Facial recognition bans (San Francisco, Somerville, Oakland, San Diego...)
Privacy and civil rights concerns have escalated in the country as face recognition gains traction as a law enforcement tool and, on 6 May 2019,
San Francisco voted to
ban facial recognition.
It is the first ban of its kind on the use of face recognition.
The anti-surveillance ordinance signed by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors bars city agencies, including San Francisco PD, from using the technology as of June 2019.
Yes, this includes law enforcement.
As reported by the
Boston Globe of 27 June 2019, the Somerville City Council (Massachusetts) voted to ban the use of facial recognition, making the city the second community to take such a decision.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
On July 16, Oakland (California) took the same decision and became the third US city to ban the use of face recognition technology. It is interesting to note that the Oakland Police department is
not using this technology and was not planning to use it.
San Diego took the same decision at the end of December 2019 in advance of the new Californian law.
This new law (Assembly Bill 215) about facial recognition and other biometric surveillance) specifically prohibits the use of police body cameras in California. The ban is in place for three years as of 1 January 2020.
Since the San Francisco, Sommerville, Oakland, and now San Diego rulings, the debate gets louder in many cities and not only in the U.S.
Portland (Oregon) is considering a ban for 2020. Early January, the vote has been put on hold until June, however. Portland could be the first city to extend it to private stores, airlines, and event venues.
At the end of August 2019, Sweden's Data Protection Authority decided to ban facial recognition technology in schools and
fined a local high school (the first GDPR penalty in the country).
How to better regulate emerging technologies?
- Should other cities or countries follow this example?
- Is the ban just a "pause button" to better assess risks?
- Is this a step backwards for public safety?
- Is there a policy vacuum? At which level?
Stay tuned for the outcome of all these discussions as the
U.S Congress is getting pressure from activists to ban the technology and the
EU Commission is planning to act on indiscriminate use of facial identifier technology.
The new European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wants a coordinated approach to the human and ethical implications of artificial intelligence. She has pledged to publish an AI legislation blueprint very soon. The very first draft of the European commission
whitepaper is available online.
The document mentions “a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition by private or public actors in public spaces.”
Again the questions of privacy, consent, and
function creep (data collected for one purpose being used for another) are central to the debate.
More on biometric data protection laws (EU, UK and US perspective) in our
biometric data dossier.
India and its national biometric identification scheme, Aadhaar
In India, thanks to the Puttaswamy judgment delivered on 27 August 2017, the Supreme Court has enshrined the
right to privacy in the country's constitution. This decision has rebalanced the relationship between citizen and state and posed a new challenge to the expansion of the Aadhaar project.
government, however, approved the use of the country's biometric EID program by private entities on 28 February 2019.
Rebound effect: the legal system and its professions get even stronger.
As both ambassadors and guardians of data protection regulation, the post of data protection officer has become necessary for businesses and a much sought-after role.
#6 The rebels – facial recognition hackers
Despite this technical and legal arsenal designed to protect data, citizens, and their
anonymity, critical voices have still been raised.
Some parties are concerned and alarmed by these developments. Some have taken actions.
But can facial recognition be fooled?
- In Russia, Grigory Bakunov has invented a solution to escape the eyes permanently watching our movements and
confuse face detection devices. He has developed an algorithm that creates special makeup to fool the software. However, he has chosen not to bring his product to market after realizing how easily criminals could use it.
- In Germany, Berlin artist Adam Harvey has come up with a similar device known as
CV Dazzle. He is now working on clothing featuring patterns to prevent detection. The hyperface camouflage includes patterns in fabric, such as eyes and mouths, to fool the face recognition system.
- In late 2017, a Vietnamese company successfully used a
mask to hack the Face ID face recognition function of Apple's iPhone X. However, the hack is too complicated to implement for large-scale exploitation.
- Around the same time, researchers from a German company revealed a hack that allowed them to bypass the facial authentication of Windows 10 Hello by printing a facial image in infrared.
- Forbes announced in an article from May 2018 that researchers from the University of Toronto have developed an
algorithm to disrupt facial recognition software (aka privacy filter).
In short, a user could apply a filter that modifies specific pixels in an image before putting it on the web. These changes are imperceptible to the human eye but are very confusing for facial recognition algorithms.
The industry is working on
anti-spoofing mechanisms, and two topics have been specifically identified by standardization groups :
- Make sure the captured image has been done from a person and not from a photograph (2D), a video screen (2D) or a mask (3D), (liveness check or
- Make sure that facial images (morphed portraits) of two or more individuals have not been joined into a reference document, such as a passport.
#7 Further together – towards hybridized solutions
The identification and authentication solutions of the future will borrow from all aspects of biometrics.
This will lead to "biometrix" or a
biometric mix capable of guaranteeing total security and privacy for all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
It's very much the spirit of Thales Gemalto IdCloud Fraud Prevention, a risk assessment, and
fraud detection software for payments.
In this solution, geolocation,
IP-addresses (the device being used) and
keying patterns can create a
strong combination to authenticate users for on-line banking or egovernment services securely.
This seventh trend belongs to us.
It's our job to envisage it together and make it happen through high-added-value biometric projects.
Face recognition and you
Now it's your turn.
The months to come hold many changes in store. Indeed, we can't claim to predict all the essential topics that will emerge in the short term future.
Can you fill in some of the gaps?
If you've something to say on face recognition, tech or trends, a question to ask, or have simply found this article useful, please leave a comment in the box below.
We'd also welcome any suggestions on how it could be improved or proposals for future articles.
We look forward to hearing from you.