A facial recognition system is a computer application for automatically identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. One of the ways to do this is by comparing selected facial features from the image and a facial database.
One advantage of 3-D facial recognition is that it is not affected by changes in lighting like other techniques. It can also identify a face from a range of viewing angles, including a profile view.
Tests have shown that with the addition of skin texture analysis, performance in recognizing faces can increase 20 to 25 percent.
The German Federal Police use a facial recognition system to allow voluntary subscribers to pass fully automated border controls at Frankfurt Rhein-Main international airport. Subscribers need to be European Union or Swiss citizens. Griffin Investigations is famous for its recognition system used by casinos to catch card counters and other blacklisted individuals.
The Australian Customs Service has an automated border processing system called SmartGate that uses facial recognition. The system compares the face of the individual with the image in the e-passport microchip, certifying that the holder of the passport is the rightful owner.
Pennsylvania Justice Network searches crime scene photographs and CCTV footage in the mugshot database of previous arrests. A number of cold cases have been resolved since the system became operational in 2005. Other law enforcement agencies in the USA and abroad use arrest mugshot databases in their forensic investigative work.
U.S. Department of State operates one of the largest face recognition systems in the world with over 75 million photographs that is actively used for visa processing.
Spaceship Earth in EPCOT uses this for the touch screen part of the ride.
At Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001, police in Tampa Bay, Florida, used Indentix’s facial recognition software, FaceIt, to search for potential criminals and terrorists in attendance at the event. (it found 19 people with pending arrest warrants)
In the 2000 presidential election, the Mexican government employed facial recognition software to prevent voter fraud. Some individuals had been registering to vote under several different names, in an attempt to place multiple votes. By comparing new facial images to those already in the voter database, authorities were able to reduce duplicate registrations. Similar technologies are being used in the United States to prevent people from obtaining fake identification cards and driver’s licenses.
There are also a number of potential uses for facial recognition that are currently being developed. For example, the technology could be used as a security measure at ATM’s; instead of using a bank card or personal identification number, the ATM would capture an image of your face, and compare it to your photo in the bank database to confirm your identity. This same concept could also be applied to computers; by using a webcam to capture a digital image of yourself, your face could replace your password as a means to log-in.
As part of the investigation of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann the British police are calling on visitors to the Ocean Club Resort, Praia da Luz in Portugal or the surrounding areas in the two weeks leading up to the child's disappearance on Thursday 3 May, 2007 to provide copies of any photographs of people taken during their stay, in an attempt to identify the abductor using a biometric facial recognition application.
Other conditions where face recognition does not work well include poor lighting, sunglasses, long hair, or other objects partially covering the subject’s face, and low resolution images.
"Camera technology designed to spot potential terrorists by their facial characteristics at airports failed its first major test at Boston's Logan Airport
During 1964 and 1965, Bledsoe, along with Helen Chan and Charles Bisson, worked on using the computer to recognize human faces (Bledsoe 1966a, 1966b; Bledsoe and Chan 1965). He was proud of this work, but because the funding was provided by an unnamed intelligence agency that did not allow much publicity, little of the work was published. Given a large database of images (in effect, a book of mug shots) and a photograph, the problem was to select from the database a small set of records such that one of the image records matched the photograph. The success of the method could be measured in terms of the ratio of the answer list to the number of records in the database. Bledsoe (1966a) described the following difficulties:
This project was labeled man-machine because the human extracted the coordinates of a set of features from the photographs, which were then used by the computer for recognition. Using a graphics tablet (GRAFACON or RAND TABLET), the operator would extract the coordinates of features such as the center of pupils, the inside corner of eyes, the outside corner of eyes, point of widows peak, and so on. From these coordinates, a list of 20 distances, such as width of mouth and width of eyes, pupil to pupil, were computed. These operators could process about 40 pictures an hour. When building the database, the name of the person in the photograph was associated with the list of computed distances and stored in the computer. In the recognition phase, the set of distances was compared with the corresponding distance for each photograph, yielding a distance between the photograph and the database record. The closest records are returned.
This brief description is an oversimplification that fails in general because it is unlikely that any two pictures would match in head rotation, lean, tilt, and scale (distance from the camera). Thus, each set of distances is normalized to represent the face in a frontal orientation. To accomplish this normalization, the program first tries to determine the tilt, the lean, and the rotation. Then, using these angles, the computer undoes the effect of these transformations on the computed distances. To compute these angles, the computer must know the three-dimensional geometry of the head. Because the actual heads were unavailable, Bledsoe (1964) used a standard head derived from measurements on seven heads.
After Bledsoe left PRI in 1966, this work was continued at the Stanford Research Institute, primarily by Peter Hart. In experiments performed on a database of over 2000 photographs, the computer consistently outperformed humans when presented with the same recognition tasks (Bledsoe 1968). Peter Hart (1996) enthusiastically recalled the project with the exclamation, "It really worked!"
By about 1997, the system developed by Christoph von der Malsburg and graduate students of the University of Bochum in Germany and the University of Southern California in the United States outperformed most systems with those of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland rated next. The Bochum system was developed through funding by the United States Army Research Laboratory. The software was sold as ZN-Face and used by customers such as Deutsche Bank and operators of airports and other busy locations. The software was "robust enough to make identifications from less-than-perfect face views. It can also often see through such impediments to identification as mustaches, beards, changed hair styles and glasses—even sunglasses".
In about January 2007, image searches were "based on the text surrounding a photo," for example, if text nearby mentions the image content. Polar Rose technology can guess from a photograph, in about 1.5 seconds, what any individual may look like in three dimensions, and thought they "will ask users to input the names of people they recognize in photos online" to help build a database.
A possible future application for facial recognition systems lies in retailing. A retail store (for example,a grocery store) may have cash registers equipped with cameras,the cameras would be aimed at the faces of customers,so pictures of customers could be obtained. The camera would be the primary means of identifying the customer,and if visual identification failed,the customer could complete the purchase by using a PIN (personal identification number). After the cash register had calculated the total sale,the face recognition system would verify the identify of the customer and the total amount of the sale would be deducted from the customer's bank account. Hence,face-based retailing would provide convenience for retail customers,since they could go shopping simply by showing their faces,and there would be no need to bring debit cards,or other financial media. Wide-reaching applications of face-based retailing are possible,including retail stores,restaurants,movie theaters,car rental companies,hotels,etc.