16 Dec, 2021 In Social Media & the WebTechnology

Facial Recognition – A brave new world

Facial recognition... Not the newest technology on the market but certainly one that is becoming more and more widespread as the days go by.

There was a time that the idea of unlocking something just by scanning your face was the subject of sci-fi movies and rants made by your eccentric uncle who believed the government was out to get him 😳

And yet now, we all rely on this commodity for the simplest of tasks, like unlocking our phones. 

Authentication by Facial Recognition

But what exactly is facial recognition and how does it work? 


To define it simply facial recognition is a software algorithm that verifies your identity by processing a video frame or image of your face. The software can work in many ways but generally it compares facial features in an image or video to faces contained within a database. 


Now facial recognition works in a system of 4 simple steps:

Face Detection

Step 1

Face Detection


This is simple enough, a camera will detect a human face.

This could be a face out in a crowd or alone and most of the time it’s easiest to detect when the person is looking straight at the camera. 

Step 2

Face Analysis


So now that we have the face, the software begins to analyse it…

During this process the face is separated into prominent landmarks - or nodal points.

A human face has 8 of these points, for example the distance between your eyebrows.

Face analysis
Converting image to data

Step 3

Converting an image into data

Now that information has been gathered it is then transformed to numbers in the application database.

A numerical code is built off of those 8 nodal points and that code becomes what is called a ‘faceprint’ - similar to the concept of a fingerprint. 

Step 4



Finally, we get to matching.

Your faceprint is compared to other facial codes until finally it is matched with yours.



This is all well and good but on a personal note, I think it needs to be said that there is a lot more to facial recognition than just using Face ID to unlock your phone.

Many people forget that governments also implement this kind of technology, and so do big corporations. Whether we like it or not, these bigger powers have our faces on file and can track us anywhere we go, just by using a camera or our Internet-connected devices.  


So what about the ethics behind this? 

Well to say that this is a slippery slope would be an understatement. There is a lot to consider, more than I have time to write about in this short article. So instead I would like to pose some questions for you to think about...

  1. In allowing companies like Google to keep a database of our faces and information, have we effectively sold our personality?
  2. Have we given up our privacy in exchange for commodities like quicker access to our phones?
  3. Is there a way to go back now, or have we passed the point of no return?

What do you think about this?



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Student using phone