About Face

Blog Date:  8/24/2012
Author:  Ray Coulombe

The security market has seen its share of technologies that scream “My time has finally arrived!” For facial recognition technology, most of us are still waiting; however, advances in accuracy and the fact that it has found applications in government and municipal law enforcement settings has me thinking that the technology’s “time” is about to arrive.
Facial recognition (F.R.) systems are computer-based security systems that use “geometric mapping” and other techniques to analyze and categorize human faces by distance between the eyes, shape of cheekbones, etc. These measurements are stored in a database or used to compare with profiles stored for establishing a match.
The technology sounds terrific for security; however, its time has not come because of limited effectiveness and accuracy. Issues include masking features, such as glasses, facial hair or expression; poor lighting; and processing power for on-the-fly analysis. I participated in a market survey of integrators and consultants last year — no surprise when all the respondents said they were neither using nor specifying the technology.
Still, thanks to noticeable improvement is the accuracy of F.R. systems, the technology is inching toward prime time. One major enhancement was the conversion of 2D images to 3D — thanks to companies such as CyberExtruder (www.CyberExtruder.com), which can convert a few 2D images of a person’s head/face into a unique 3D model. The 3D model can then be rotated to get an improved frontal view to present to the image processor.
Algorithm developers, such as NEC (www.necam.com/Biometrics), have attacked other weaknesses of the technology, such as masking features and expression, and have pursued non-geometric techniques. An example of this is pattern analysis — a technique that quantifies skin texture and its unique lines, patterns and spots.
Advancement in wide dynamic range cameras has reduced the effects of lighting variation, and megapixel cameras provide increasing richness of detail.
Periodic studies by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) show a remarkable progression in accuracy. In published studies, the false non-match rate (FNMR) fell from 79% in 1993 to 0.3% in 2010, achieved by NEC.
Link to Complete Article as it appeared in Security Technology Executive Magazine


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