The country on the cutting edge of facial recognition technology and the amazing ways it can be put to use is definitely China. While the Chinese government and many of the country’s current systems, large population (more than 1.3 billion citizens) and centralized identity data bases might make adopting facial recognition technology easier than in Europe or the United States, Chinese-based technology companies are also leaders in investing and building useful innovations to find new ways to profit from the use of computer vision.
How Facial Recognition Technology Works
Unlike your fingerprint, your faceprint can be scanned at a distance. Your individual faceprint is a unique code that is applicable to you. It’s created by measuring distances between points on your face such as the width of your nose or the distance between your eyes. These various points are called “nodal points” and about 80 of them are used to create your faceprint. Once a faceprint is made, it is run through identity databases to connect the face to a name in the database. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security began its quest to build the world’s most extensive facial recognition database in 2015. The error rates of the technology can be as low as 0.8 percent; eight out of 1,000 scans could be misidentified.
Now that we have a baseline understanding of how facial recognition technology works, let’s explore the many ways it’s currently being used.
Security and Police Work
As you might imagine, there are many applications for facial recognition technology in security and police work. From catching the relatively minor infractions such as jaywalkers to the more serious murder suspect and other criminals, facial recognition technology can help spot suspects in real-time based on images from cameras that are fed into identity databases. Lost elderly people or children can also be found with this technology. Just knowing the technology is deployed can also help deter crime. Police officers in several local public security bureaus in China including Beijing and Tianjin use augmented reality glasses created by the Xloong company. These glasses are able to cross-reference faces against the national database to spot criminals.
Payment Portals and Financial Transactions
Smile to pay instead of whipping out your wallet? That’s what they are testing at a KFC in Chinese city Hangzhou. This pilot program was initiated by Alibaba’s Ant Financial to appeal to younger generations. Instead of paying with cash or a credit card, the transaction is processed after the customer smiles into a self-serve screen and a 3-D camera scans the customer’s face to confirm identity. As long as you are a registered customer of the Alipay app, you’re good to go.