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Entries in Facial Recognition (88)

Thursday
Apr242014

Computer Beats Humans in Face Recognition for the First Time

Labeled Faces in the Wild Credit: LFWFacial recognition technology may be thwarted by photos' variations in pose, illumination, expression and occlusion. But for the first time, a computer algorithm, developed by researchers from Chinese University of Hong Kong, has beat the facial recognition accuracy of humans.

The researchers Chaochao Lu and Xiaoou Tang used the Labeled Faces in the Wild database – a collection of 13,000 faces of 6,000 public figures from the Internet, each labeled with the person's name – as a benchmark. The database provides a range of face images with variations in pose, lighting, expression, race, ethnicity, age, gender, clothing, hairstyles, and other parameters.

The algorithm, named GaussianFace, scored an accuracy rating of 98.52 percent, beating the human average of 97.53 percent. Prior to GaussianFace, the highest score achieved by technology was 97.25 percent. 

According to the Physics arXiv Blog, it works by normalizing each face into a 150x120 pixel image using five image landmarks: the position of both eyes, the nose and the two corners of the mouth. It then divides each image into overlapping patches of 25x25 pixels and describes each patch using a vector, which captures its basic features. Then it compare the images looking for similarities.

GaussianFace was trained by using four databases that contain very different images. One of these is the Multi-PIE database, which consists of face images of 337 subjects from 15 different viewpoints under 19 different conditions of illumination taken in four photo sessions. Another is a database called Life Photos, which contains about 10 images of 400 different people.

Wednesday
Apr232014

Retailers Turn to Facial Recognition to Cut Down on Shoplifting

Smile, shoppers. You're on candid camera equipped with facial recognition software.

Retail stores that are vulnerable to shoplifting criminal activity are about to get a new ally. FaceFirst, a facial recognition software system, recently partnered with a nationally renowned Fortune 500 company to deploy hundreds of cameras in store entrances across the nation in order to curb shoplifting incidences and other criminal activity in the retail market.

FaceFirst's national deployment is the retail industry's largest retail deployment of facial recognition, and the software company anticipates securing additional retailers in the future. The company claims its advanced facial recognition technology will boost customer loyalty by providing shoppers with a peace of mind knowing their shopping experience can be enjoyed without the threat of criminal activity.

The FaceFirst facial recognition system spots known perpetrators entering store locations so retailers can stop criminal activity before they cost the retailer money. The software allows retailers to receive descriptive alerts when pre-identified shoplifters walk through any door at any store across multiple locations and receive alerts when litigious individuals enter store locations.

FaceFirst is just the latest in a string of retail-oriented facial recognition applications. NEC just announced its NeoFace software, which recognizes returning customers and tracks their preferences to provide better customer service. Both FaceFirst and NeoFace are designed to be easily installed and fairly affordable, so retailers of all sizes can take advantage of the technology. As prices on this type of software continue to fall, shoppers should expect facial recognition to become increasingly popular in the retail world.

Tuesday
Apr152014

The FBI's Facial Recognition System Will Collect Data on Everyone -- Even Non-Criminals

Image credit: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Privacy fans, get ready to feel your blood pressure rise.

The FBI is planning to roll out an extensive new facial recognition system that includes a database of photos to identify Americans, regardless of criminal historyaccording to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The system, called Next Generation Identification, or NGI, could soon include facial rec information on as many as 100 million Americans. The FBI already maintains a database of about 100 million people’s fingerprints, as well as many retina scans and palm prints, and personal information like name, address, age and race.

According to Business Insider, the database will grow quickly. By 2015, the system will be able to query up to 52 million photos: 46 million criminal images, such as mugshots; 4.3 million "civil images" from other sources; and 215,000 photos from the Repository for Individuals of Special Concern.

NGI is already being used in several states, and many more will soon join in. According to privacy advocates like the EFF, the FBI is clearly overreaching the bounds of privacy.

According to the EFF:

[T]he FBI only ensures that “the candidate will be returned in the top 50 candidates” 85 percent of the time “when the true candidate exists in the gallery.”

It is unclear what happens when the “true candidate” does not exist in the gallery—does NGI still return possible matches? Could those people then be subject to criminal investigation for no other reason than that a computer thought their face was mathematically similar to a suspect’s? This doesn’t seem to matter much to the FBI—the Bureau notes that because “this is an investigative search and caveats will be prevalent on the return detailing that the [non-FBI] agency is responsible for determining the identity of the subject, there should be NO legal issues.”

We're interested to learn how the facial rec portion of NGI will work in reality. In the meantime, how do you feel about the FBI collecting and querying your facial recognition data? In today's age of dwindling privacy, does news like this still get under your skin?

Tuesday
Apr012014

Facial Recognition is the Next Big Thing in Egg Donation

Circle Egg Donation is the most recent egg donation agency to begin offering advanced facial recognition software to help intended parents in finding the right egg donor. The program allows intended parents to select egg donors who most resemble their physical looks.

Here's how it works: Based on a photo the intended parent provides to Circle Egg Donation, the 3D software from Precision Donor™ constructs a virtual topographical map of facial features. That map is compared to all of Circle’s registered egg donors, yielding results of best matches for resemblance to the parent. Precision Donor’s software is similar to that used by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security—reportedly, it’s that accurate and secure.

Once an intended parent finds a match, the software immediately erases all identifying information, including photos, from the database in an effort to protect user’s privacy. All that remains is an algorithm, which is compared with egg donors in the database to find the closest matches.

Not surprisingly, now a similar program is being used at sperm donation agencies. We love the fact that in today's age of facial rec apps, websites, interactive signage and other relative frivolity, software like that used at Circle Egg Donation is actually helping people build families.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Furry Facial Recognition? New App IDs Missing Cats and Dogs

With facial recognition technology popping up everywhere, it was only a matter of time until someone applied it to our pets.

A new iPhone app called PiP (or, Positive Identification of Pet) is designed to help owners find their missing cats and dogs more easily. When Fluffy goes missing, the owner can upload a photo of him to the app. The software runs a facial recognition search against a database of pets that have recently been found in the area.

Meanwhile, the owner can issue an "Amber Alert" to local veterinarians, rescue agencies and other organizations to ask them to keep a lookout for Fluffy. The Amber Alert can also be extended to Twitter and Craigslist to get other people in the area involved.

According to the Daily Mail, the Humane Society says that about 4 million animals are reported missing every year in the U.S. Worse still, only about 15 percent of dogs without microchips are ever found by their owners. Although the PiP app isn't the ideal solution -- mainly, because it depends upon someone finding your pet, knowing about the app and actually taking the time to upload the animal's photo -- it could certainly be helpful for many. And we love the idea of furry facial recognition for any pet whose owner thinks of as part of the family.