The Beginner's Guide: Facial Recognition

Facial Recognition has been a huge buzzword for a couple of years now. Some find it to be an exciting leap for technology and some find it to be a breach of privacy or even an ethical problem. How you feel about facial recognition is totally up to you but here we are going to highlight some of the most common places facial recognition is used and how it benefits a multitude of industries.

What is Facial Recognition?

Biometric verification - young man face recognition concept

Simply put, facial recognition is a system that uses biometrics to map out distinct features from a photo or video of a person’s face. This can be used for opening your smart phone or tablet (most commonly used by consumers) or to identify matches in databases. Facial recognition is similar to a fingerprint in the way that your face is unique to you and only you. The basic steps of how it works are as follows:

  1. A photo of your face is captured either alone, or within a crowd.
  2. Facial recognition software reads the key geometrical points of your face such as the distance between your eyes, nose and mouth. This is your facial signature.
  3. Your facial signature- which is a mathematical formula- is then compared to a database that holds other known faces.
  4. Depending on the use, your face is either matched to another facial signature in the database or it is not.

Who is Using Facial Recognition?

The simplest answer is pretty much everyone with a smart phone that was released over the past 3 years. However, there are a ton of other places where it is used, even if you don’t have a newer smart phone or you choose to use leave your device unlocked or use simple passwords. So where else is your face potentially being traced?

  • Airports. In the United States, The Department of Homeland Security utilizes this technology to monitor people entering and leaving the country to identify people who have overstayed their visas or are under investigation for criminal activity.
  • Universities or Colleges. Some larger institutions utilize facial recognition to take roll or ensure that the people taking the tests are who they say they are.
  • Social Media. Facebook (for example) spots faces and provides suggestions to tag people. This tool can now recognize faces with 98% accuracy!
  • Many apps offer the ability to skip password log ins and use facial recognition (this goes hand in hand with face ID enabled devices).
  • Business Entrances and Restricted Areas. Many companies who have secured areas allow limited access by employees or visitors. These areas may be monitored to record who is accessing these areas and how long they are in there.
  • Religious Places of Worship. Many churches and other religious spaces use facial recognition to track regulars and not-so-regular visitors. This is generally used to tailor donation requests as well as provide an extra level of security.
  • Airline Departure Gates. Delta is an example of an airline that now allows ticketless boarding. You can simply walk to the gate and scan your face for entrance to the plane as they match your face to the ticket you purchased. No more fumbling with your mobile app or paper boarding pass.
  • Retail Stores. Larger stores and shopping malls are now adding facial recognition to their existing security cameras a preventative measure. This is done in hopes of identifying suspicious characters and potential shoplifters.
  • Advertisers. Marketing efforts generally take gender, age, ethnicity and location to create advertising campaigns. With facial recognition they can gather all of this data by seeing you at a concert or in a crowd at an event.

This list is long and covers most of the things that we as consumers do in our daily lives. However, just because these items are on this list does not mean that the local grocery store is gathering your biometric data. This list is simply highlighting all the places we are seeing this technology used.

Facial Recognition is an incredible tool that has the potential to increase public safety, make our day to day lives easier, and make things like fun filters on social media possible. It’s important to understand how it works, and where it is being used so you can make your own decisions on where your data is going. Whether you like facial recognition or not is up to you, but it is important to understand what it is so you can make informed decisions on how you utilize your devices and who you share your biometric data with.

If you have any questions about facial recognition software or would like to know how it could be of use in your building, or office we would love to have a conversation with you. Feel free to contact us at any time by clicking the orange Contact Us button below, by sending an email to or by calling 763.475.5500

Similar posts

Get notified on new marketing insights

Be the first to know about new B2B SaaS Marketing insights to build or refine your marketing function with the tools and knowledge of today’s industry.