Lab to street
The technology underpinning facial recognition has been around for some time, with researchers doing exploratory work in this area as far back as the 1960s, but it’s in the last three years that significant improvements have been made thanks to powerful new deep learning models and the availability of big data, according to Professor Dacheng Tao, director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence in the University of Technology Sydney.
“This technology is walking out of laboratories and being utilised in many real-world applications in both entertainment and public security,” says Professor Tao.
“To name a few, Facebook and Picasa use face recognition to automatically tag users’ friends in uploaded photos; Sydney airport has adopted advanced customs clearance systems to automatically verify passengers’ identity based on face recognition technology; and police officers in Chicago make use of face recognition to identify a robber’s identity in surveillance videos.”
In the past, similar technology has also been used to thwart voter fraud in the Mexican presidential elections and by the Chinese government during the Beijing Olympic Games to identify activists. But where the technology is expected to have a greater impact in the future is in the area of law enforcement and counter terrorism.