Though the concept of advanced facial recognition software may seem futuristic, you’ve already been experiencing it for years. Have you ever been surprised at the accuracy of a ‘suggested tag’ in a group photo? The sophistication of today’s facial recognition technology can be alarming. With recent renewed interest in so-called ‘micro-expressions’ (tiny and instinctive movements of facial muscles that last just a nano second ), there has also been a lot of talk about how this technology could recognize not only faces, but also identify the emotions shown by the faces. There are a countless number of areas where such software can be applied, with significant implications for the future of security, marketing and health care.
Check-in and security
Apple is already hoping to soon implement a security system that will see facial recognition technology function as an unlocking device. In other words, there’ll be no more need for number or swipe codes anymore – a quick scan of your face will be all that is needed. The same concept can be applied to hotels, airports or other places where check-in or security is required. This system would cut down on queues and other time-consuming procedures.
Facial recognition technology is already being used in marketing, but we’re likely to see it applied much more broadly in the near future. As of now, the technology can determine someone’s age and gender, adapting the advertisement it shows them accordingly. This will allow marketers to better target consumers by exposing more relevant ads. The technology could, however, also be taken a step further. Emotient is a new A.I. image processing technology which can identify five main emotions – joy, anger, disgust, shock and fear. This facial recognition software will identify the emotions you appear to be feeling by analyzing your facial expression. The technology can even pick up ‘micro-expressions’, making it difficult to fool. This means that marketers, at the same time as they adapt advertisement based on your age and gender, can also get feedback on how you react to the advertisement it shows you.
There are numerous ways in which reliable facial recognition technology can help in both crime detection and investigation. For starters, it can help in identifying missing people. It can, however, also be used alongside cameras in observing people and potentially preventing crimes before they even happen. When thousands of past videos of people committing crimes are run through the technology, an element of artificial intelligence will learn what suspicious or violent behaviour looks like and will be able to alert authorities when it detects such a thing.
Meanwhile the emotion-reading aspect of modern facial recognition technology will prove useful in criminal investigation too, where it could be used as a sort of lie detector. During interrogation either in police interviews or in court, the technology should be able to pick up on signs of discomfort or other emotions that don’t match what the suspect or witness is saying, as well as detecting those uncontrollable micro-expressions which are often present when we lie. Of course, criminal investigation needn’t be the only time this technology will be used for lie-detection purposes. It is feasible to imagine a future in which facial recognition software can be discreetly used to uncover cheating spouses, scrutinize job candidates in interviews, or at casinos where even the best of poker faces would struggle to trick the advanced software.
Psychology and mental health care
Employers and educational facilities are putting an increasing emphasis on the importance of employee and student well-being. A happy workplace is a productive one, so progressive companies and schools are caring more and more about mental health. Emotion-reading facial recognition technology could help identify employees or students who regularly look unhappy. Furthermore, the technology can be used in therapy sessions, where psychologists feel that more research could go into understanding the link between facial expressions and mood.
The future of facial recognition technology holds many exciting possibilities. The software is likely to make security checks quicker whilst preventing crimes, helping in the detection of depression and allowing for more personalized marketing. Unfortunately, there are unavoidably ways the technology could also be used for illicit purposes. The next few years will show how facial recognition software developers, and governments, will combat improper use of the technology.