Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) has been around for some time now, but in recent years the levels of sophistication have sky-rocketed. Whilst it used to be that the bad guys in spy movies were somehow the only ones who could get their hands on reliable FRT which allowed them to access their evil lair, nowadays many of us use it daily to access our text messages. These are some of the ways that FRT could be used in the future to benefit our lives.
Locate Missing People
This method of locating missing people relies on two things, that the missing person is immediately added to a database, and that they go missing in an area where FRT is in use. As long as these two conditions are fulfilled, there is a good chance that a missing person could be discovered. When the person goes missing, the police should be alerted and add a selection of photos of their face to their database.
The images from the database can be circulated around all of the public spaces that use FRT in the area, for example, airports, train stations, and even shopping malls. If the missing person is spotted by FRT in a public space then the police can be alerted. The hope is that they make it to the area quickly and can locate the missing person and reunite them with their family. Although this may seem like a lot of hoops that need to be jumped through in order for the technology to work, it has already been put to surprisingly good use in India where over a period of 4 days, more than 3000 missing children were located safely.
Identity Verification For Gamers
Whilst the applications for FRT as a security measure is by no means a new idea, there are some avenues where this is only just being explored. Some of the top mobile casinos in South Africa are looking at introducing FRT checks to verify the identity of their players. Most smartphones have the capability to run FRT, so it would be simple to introduce and would help casinos to ensure two important things.
The first would be the age of the customer, as in South Africa, the minimum age to gamble is 18. The second would be to verify the identity of the customer. Whilst scams involving fraudsters emptying the online casino accounts of their victims are unusual, they are by no means unheard of. Someone whose phone is stolen, or password is discovered could potentially have their gaming money withdrawn, but with the help of FRT a stranger’s face would be noticed trying to use the account and access could be temporarily frozen.
Prevent Retail Crime
As well as being used to verify somebody’s identity to prevent casino crime, FRT can also be used surprisingly simply to help prevent shoplifting. Many retail outlets are already renting Ipads with FRT installed in order to combat retail crime. Using photographs of convicted shoplifters and those who have a history of fraud, FRT can be on the lookout for those who might be up to no good.
The technology can alert the security staff when a person who has been identified from the criminal database enters the store, allowing the security staff to keep a slightly closer eye on that person. Whilst some don’t like the idea of retail stores being able to recognize people and single them out, the statistics show that not only does this reduce shoplifting by more than a third, it also reduced in-store violence by more than 90%.
It can be a scary thought to believe that ‘big brother’ is watching you, but if the technology has already produced such staggering improvements in relatively few outlets, then it could create a safer world for all of us.
Ease Social Interactions For Blind People
Many of us have complained about how difficult it is to accurately convey meaning over text message; it is hard when you can’t see the person’s face on the other end of the message. For reasons like this, we invented emoticons, to allow us to explain visually when we’re just having a laugh, or we’re being sarcastic. However, for blind people, this problem persists not just by text, but in everyday life.
Thankfully FRT has the potential to solve this problem. By installing an app on their phone, a blind person can have a normal conversation whilst holding the app in the direction of the other person’s face. The FRT functionality of the app will recognize the different emotions on the person’s face, for example smiling, laughing, or frowning, and buzz a certain number of times to alert the blind person to this.