Face Recognition and How it Works

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As explained by Norton, face recognition technology, just as it sounds, is a system that uses technology to recognize faces. Using biometrics, the software of face detection and recognition can map the features of a person’s face from a photographic image or from a video. While this can help to verify identity, there are some privacy issues raised by the use of facial recognition. As Norton points out, the market for this technology is expected to be over 7 billion dollars in the next 3 years. This is because of the wide number of uses that the technology has in security, retail, and other commercial applications. But how does this technology work?

Humans Recognize Faces with Face Recognition

As we have mentioned before, most humans can recognize faces. When you meet a family member, a friend from school or work, a fellow church member, or another person from your life, you immediately recognize that person. You can even do the same from an image or video. For example, if you met a famous celebrity you would likely recognize them, even though you had only seen them on screen or in pictures. It does not have to be someone that you know or have ever met for you to recognize a face. It simply has to be a face that you have seen before.

This is because the brain recognizes patterns such as how far apart the eyes are, the distance between the eyebrows, how far the earlobes are from the corners of the mouth, etc. When seeing a face for the first time, your brain takes note of these patterns and stores them in memory. The brain will attach identifying notations with the face. If you know the person’s name, that will be stored with the face. If it is just someone that you see in passing, your brain may note, “guy on the jogging trail,” or “lady in the coffee shop.”

Human Face Recognition Recall is not 100% Accurate

When you see that same face again, your brain quickly analyzes those key features and compares them to the faces that it has stored. In less than a second, the brain alerts you that this is a face that you have seen before. You may or may not be able to place where you have seen it, but you recognize that face. In most cases, it will take less than a second for you to remember where you have seen this person, and if you have a name, that will usually be brought to the surface as well.

Within just a few seconds of seeing a person again, you are able to put on a smile of recognition and greet them by name. If you don’t know the person’s name, you may just smile and nod in recognition. There are some cases, however, where the name and location of where you know the person from may not come to mind, but you will know that you recognize the face. Often people will ask themselves, “Now where do I know that guy from?” Fortunately, facial recognition technology does not have these weaknesses. In next week’s article, we will look deeper into face recognition and how it works.