Intro - The World Has Changed
lot has changed in 20 years. I'll tell you why that matters in a moment but first I'd like to breakdown some pretty stifling statistics about how much things have changed since the year 2000.
- In the year 2000, less than 7% of the worlds population had access to the internet and less than 740 million people had access to cell phones.
- In 2020, Tom Brady had not yet entered the NFL.
- Today, over half the population has access to the internet (about 65% globally and over 90% in North America).
- There are now over 8 billion cellphones in use (you read that right, there are more devices than humans).
- Today, over 54% of cellphone users have access to the internet from their mobile device (~4.28 billion).
To put this into context: Today we have roughly 10 times as many people can access the internet on their mobile device (4.28 billion) than there were people on the entire planet that had access to the internet, period (on any device: ~430 million). And Tom Brady now has seven championships...
Ok Enough Statistics... What's My Point?
The point I am trying to make with this slew of random internet statistics is - since the early 2000's (memorable early 2000's events: 9/11, Dot-Com bubble, Enron, Putin & Bush elected President), we have seen an unprecedented level of technological advancement and the world has become obscenely interconnected. That and Tom Brady is pretty good at football.
Many aspects of our everyday lives have changed for the better, in the name of *convenience*.
Things like: Google Maps to tell you where your going, Uber to physically take you there or Netflix to keep you entertained on your way to your destination. Limitless functionality and information at your fingertips. This has created a highly convenient world for us to live in and experience.
While we cannot understate the overabundance of benefits associated with these advancements (who doesn't love same-day delivery?), there are some serious implications and drawbacks. In the modern era of endless connectivity, we often sacrifice our security and privacy for convenience.
What better way to explain this than this visual representation. In the West, one simple example of a loss in privacy is having our personal information sold to advertisers. This simple example has a reasonably insignificant impact on our overall lives (up for debate), yet is often discussed. However, these concerns also transcend into government policy, industry regulations and many other aspects of our lives.
What Does This Have to do With Facial Biometrics?
Over the last 20-years, technological advancement has also enabled federal governments, like China, to instill mass surveillance unto their citizens. For many years China has been using facial recognition and AI to determine the identity of their citizens and monitoring their behavior - both in the physical world (i.e. - identifying and reprimanding a citizen for jaywalking) and in the digital world (i.e. - monitoring and censoring a citizens digital communications). In more recent years this radical advancement in surveillance by the state has led to further refinement in what is known as the social credit system - whereby citizens are incentivized and disincentivized for what the state deems as good and bad behavior.
In the West, this type of surveillance is considered by most as an unthinkable infringement of personal rights and freedoms - plain and simple, we've read 1984 and we don't want the government being an overbearing helicopter parent. Netflix's Black Mirror has a couple episodes that are starting to look eerily similar to that of the late Orwell novel and modern day PRC. It is largely because of what we have witnessed in Assertive Authoritarian regimes across the globe that several governmental bodies in North America (state/provincial and municipal) have outlawed the use of facial recognition outright.
So what exactly is Facial Recognition? Well, Conventional Facial Recognition is what most people think of when they think of facial biometrics. You have a camera that scans for biometric information of users and compares that information against a database of known identities. This is quite different to Facial Verification. Let me explain to you how they are different and why it's important that we differentiate the two.
So, What is Facial Verification and How is it Different From Facial Recognition?
For most people - this visual should help you understand some of the key differences and benefits but I will elaborate on functional applications below.
Facial Verification (AKA Facial Authentication) is the process by which a user must collaborate with a system by presenting an access credential (key fob, QR-code, PIN Code, or BLE) to tell the device who they are and confirm their identity with a facial biometric scan. This effectively answers the question "Are they who they say they are?" by validating a 1 to 1 match, where the users access credential must match their biometric data tied to their identity. This tends to happen more quickly as a users biometrics are compared against one user's information. Because of this, the results tend to also be more accurate.
Whereas Facial Recognition (AKA Facial Identification) is a process by which a user (or many users) are not asked for permission to collaborate and their biometric information is being scanned with or without their consent to confirm their identity. This protocol would solve the question, "Who is this person?", by validating a 1 to many match, where a users biometric information is matched with that of a database of known users.
When it comes to privacy - Facial Verification does not possess the same concerns as conventional Facial Recognition. The reason for this being is that users of Facial Verification must consent to the use of their biometric data before a biometric scan can occur. Only those who are willing to collaborate and benefit from the transaction will actually do so.
Next we're going to walk you through some of the benefits, how it works and dive into practical applications of the technology.
Benefits of Facial Verification include:
- Typically faster processing times as processing 1:1 match can occur more quickly than a database of thousands
- Assurance of privacy
- User collaboration and knowledge that the process is taking place
- A direct personal benefit from the transaction
How Exactly Does it Work?
Fun Fact - If you're reading this from a smartphone, you probably just used Facial Verification...
Facial Verification has many practical applications such as iPhone Face ID/Android Face Unlock, Physical Access Control for facility security or digital security and identity verification. These functional applications spread across many of different industries and applications that you likely use everyday.
Given how these two applications of facial biometrics actually work - there are practical applications and benefits to both. The obvious application of Conventional Facial Recognition would be: video surveillance.
For whatever reason, the general understanding of functional applications for Facial Verification tend to be poorly understood by most. I'm here to clear that up for you - here are some commonly used applications of Facial Verification/Authentication:
- Education: Exam identity validation
- Banking: Login credentials for online banking apps
- Healthcare: Appointment bookings or accessing health records
- Social Networking: Multi-factor authentication for signing in from new devices
- Physical Security: The use of physical credentials and multi-factor authentication in Access Control Systems to protect buildings
Whether we like it or not, facial biometrics are here to stay. How you choose to implement them into your everyday life is up to you. And while we don't currently offer solutions in the first four applications listed above - we know something or two about the 5th, Physical Security.