Looking into Facial Recognition Technology
November 09, 2017
The iPhone X has put a renewed spotlight on facial recognition technology. EisnerAmper gives us a little history on this unique type of technology, some of the underlying privacy and security issues, what the market looks like and which companies are leading the charge.
DP: So, Dave, the launch of one of the newest iPhones, the 10, or the X as some call it, has thrust facial recognition technology back into the spotlight. But this is hardly new technology, correct.
DK: That’s correct. so, it’s not new technology. The first research goes back to the mid-1960s for The Rand Corporation. Fast forward to 2002 when the technology was implemented as a security measure at the Super Bowl. Those results were less-than stellar. We saw a milestone when Facebook implemented it in 2010 for tagging photos. More than 350 million photos are tagged each day in this manner. However, the primary use for facial recognition technology remains law enforcement, security and anti-terrorism. One day be used as a payment mechanism for everything from airline tickets to grapes.
DP: How does the technology work?
DK: There are a couple of methods used. The less-sophisticated one examines criteria such as the measurements and shapes or distances between facial features and matches them against an existing database. So if the person isn't in the database, there’s no result. It’s also easier to fool the software by disguises, making faces, using make up, or turning your head.
The other, more robust, method is based on machine learning and 3D technology to recognize features. So, more sophisticated, the computer doesn't need an entire face or perfect lighting. This method uses facial databases to understand a person’s looks and then makes a match without knowing who the person is. This is a technology used by larger tech companies like Google and Facebook.
DP: And Dave, when we’re talking technology, we’re probably talking about some data privacy and security issues, right?
DK:Absolutely. Yep, so there’s concern that it could lead to some Orwellian dystopia with increased government control where everyone is under constant surveillance. There are some who argue that this technology could make identity theft even easier. Perhaps less worrisome is the bombardment we’ll all probably receive of even more product advertisements.
In fact, in 2008, Illinois enacted the Biometric Information Privacy Act with Facebook became the subject of several lawsuits claiming it is collecting and storing face recognition data without obtaining user consent. And in 2012, a Senate sub-committee held a hearing to address issues around facial recognition technology and privacy.
DP: Okay, let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk dollars. What does the market look like going forward?
DK: Yeah so, according to a Markets and Markets study, the facial recognition market size is estimated to grow from $3.4 billion in 2016 to $6.84 billion by 2021. And some other estimates have it as high as $9.6 billion by 2022.
DP: Okay, and what companies are leading the charge here?
DK: Companies like NEC, Safran, FaceTec, and 3M are often mentioned, and then you have a host of start-ups coming into play, which should only grow as development costs come down and the recognition accuracy improves.
DP: Okay, and where do you see opportunities for business and financial advisors?
DK: I’m going to surprise you here Dave, have a mentioned cybersecurity before?
DP: You may have once or twice.
DK: Yeah so, you have that, likewise, international accounting and tax issues come to mind. Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region of facial recognition technology. So how US companies tap into those markets, interact with those markets that should require some advisor input and analysis.
DP: Well, Dave, thanks, as always, for your expertise and this great insight.
DK:Thanks again for having me.
DP: And thank you for listening to TechTalk as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Visit eisneramper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics. And join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.