The year ahead: what’s hot in facial recognition?

With the fizz barely off our New Year’s champagne, we’re still feeling a little contemplative about the year ahead. What will 2013 bring for the facial recognition community? For Animetrics?

In our work, we’re seeing more interest in international partnerships, with more law enforcement and governmental agencies expressing interest in integrating face recognition into a growing number of initiatives. The talk is all about “bad guy” watch lists and border use, which is well within our bailiwick.

After successful deployments with Pennsylvania’s statewide JNET system and a number of international law enforcement agencies last year, we’ll continue to emphasize and explore this key market. We’ve found that police inherently understand the use case for facial recognition, and deeply appreciate its impact on their investigations. They understand that 99.7 percent accuracy when comparing two “controlled” (or frontal) images does not meet the threshold for court evidence. (With a “false acceptance rate” of one in 1,000, those numbers become unwieldy when comparing an image to a database of millions). But the current level of accuracy is more than enough to provide detectives with valuable leads for follow-up via traditional investigatory means. Obviously, this is a market we enjoy working in, and the exciting results our law enforcement clients share with us are gratifying.

In law enforcement at all levels, the trend is towards integration and information sharing. The FBI is leading the way nationwide, as it continues to work towards the roll-out of its $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) program in 2014. This massive national database will be accessible to law enforcement agencies around the country for comparison of suspect photos. In the meantime, the agency is also working to offer free facial recognition software to law enforcement through the Universal Face Workstation (UFW).

At the state level, more law enforcement agencies are embracing the technological tools that make tracking suspects across city and state lines easier. So we’re looking forward to working with more local police departments, jail/prison systems and statewide organizations to link and integrate agencies.  Whether an agency needs a complete facial recognition system – such as our FaceR Identity Management Solution (FIMS) – or can benefit from supplementing its existing system with ForensicaGPS’ unique ability to “pose correct” and create 3D avatars for challenging images, we have a solution.

As an industry, we’ll all continue to work towards making facial recognition more mobile and accessible for law enforcement and military use, as well. Innovations will also focus relentlessly on integration, custom application development and harnessing the infinite processing power of cloud technology.

In the commercial world, we predict facial recognition will continue to spread through a wide variety of applications. Retailers are looking at facial recognition to identify valuable repeat customers, as well as shoplifters. Casinos are eager to gain accuracy in identifying high-rolling gamblers, as well as cheats and card counters. And addicted gamblers themselves are asking to be enrolled in facial recognition databases, so casino security can kick them out before they roll the dice.

We’re finding watch lists come in all different flavors, and security professionals are continually looking for new ways to apply facial recognition technology.

We predict it’s going to be an interesting and successful year for facial recognition, due to the strong commitment at the highest levels of American law enforcement and the ever-growing interest of military, security and commercial users. And, of course, we expect a myriad of developers and scientists – in both the commercial and governmental spheres – to keep us all intrigued with a steady stream of creative and futuristic applications.

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