The History of Face Recognition (Part 2)

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In last week’s article, we began to discuss face recognition and face detection history and how the technology got its start. The work that was started by Woody Bledsoe and his team of researchers was continued on after Bledsoe left the project. Peter Hart was the main one to keep the research going at that point. By the year 1997, there were research teams from all around the globe experimenting with the technology of face recognition and face detection. According to Wikipedia, the face recognition system that was created by the University of Southern California located in the United States, and the University of Bochum located in Germany was considered to be the most accurate one at the time.

The Accuracy of Face Detection and Face Recognition Has Increased

Since its beginnings, face detection software and face recognition technology have increased in accuracy greatly. This is due in part to the sponsorship of United States government agencies to perform early evaluations and challenge issues with the software. As Wikipedia shares, “Since 1993, the error rate of automatic face-recognition systems has decreased by a factor of 272. The reduction applies to systems that match people with face images captured in studio or mugshot environments. In Moore’s law terms, the error rate decreased by one-half every two years.” With these increases in accuracy comes increases in the usage of the technology. Although these agencies had their own purpose for funding these projects, it is now used for much more than locating and identifying criminals traveling into the United States.

How is Face Detection and Face Recognition Used?

According to a report from Tech Guru, locating, identifying, and apprehending dangerous criminals is just one of the many uses that face detection and face recognition technology has today. Marketing specialists and advertisers use face recognition software to determine the needs and desires of consumers. Casinos use face detection to track those who are addicted to gambling, dating sites can use facial recognition to connect those with similar features, social media makes it possible to tag friends and family with facial recognition, restaurants and bars use it to recognize underage drinkers, guests are greeted by name when arriving at upscale hotels because of face recognition. In the United Kingdom, schools are using face recognition to track the attendance of students, and soon you may be able to make purchases with a credit card account or bank account by smiling at a camera – no card needed.

When Did Face Recognition Hit the Public Eye?

As we have said, during its early research, face recognition was kept a secret by the government agencies that wanted to use the software for tracking and apprehending criminals and terrorists. Since the United States government was funding the early research on these projects, those agencies determined what information could be given to the public. For several years, most of the public was unaware of face detection and face recognition and what they could do. All of that changed in early 2001. The technology first faced public scrutiny in the United States when it was used in Tampa Bay, Florida at the Superbowl, a famous football game. It was then that police and others used the technology to detect potential criminals and terrorists in the huge crowd of thousands.

Soon after its debut at the game, face detection and recognition systems began to be placed all over the United States in several locations. Although many Americans were skeptical of the technology at first, the tragedy of September 11, 2001 helped face recognition to gain popularity. On that day, terrorists flew American airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3000 innocent people. Some claim that those men could have been identified as potential terrorists if facial recognition software had been used. That claim helped soften the skepticism of the American people about face detection and face recognition.