Does the new facial recognition need only your eyes?

calendar_month June 3, 2020

Russia, China, and Japan are the reigning experts in the world of facial recognition, and contrary to popular belief already have advanced technology in place when it comes to facial recognition. The reliance on only eyes for facial recognition, was identified as a limitation several years back. A few reasons for this are:

  • Places like airports and secured military locations need to be able to scan faces among a crowd of people quickly, and scanning each one’s eyes under these circumstances and matching them quickly is a tough task.
  • It is always better to have multiple data points to corroborate a person’s biometric authentication than just one, in this age of cosmetic procedures where even the minutest details can be camouflaged or modified to trick verification systems
  • Asian and Middle Eastern countries use masks more extensively than their Western counterparts because of widespread respiratory illnesses such as the flu being more prevalent in these parts of the world, and laxer personal privacy rules. As the need to scan a larger number of the population is the norm here than the exception, technology had to be created to fulfill this need

Interestingly, several governmental and national organizations all around the world have already put to use these advanced facial recognition techniques in strategic and security-sensitive places with a good success rate.

More Than Just the Eyes

The COVID-19 pandemic that has the world in its grip is going to leave a lasting effect on all parts of the world. One of the biggest changes it will cause is making the use of masks mandatory. These masks wouldn’t just perfunctorily cover a few inches of the face but would obscure the entire lower portion. So this means, starting from the middle of the nose bridge to the entire jaw would be hidden behind the mask, and people will surely invest in the expensive varieties of masks to provide more security from the virus. Which means facial recognition devices will encounter at least triple-layered obstruction while trying to read a person’s lower face.

So what other options are available to provide accurate and rapid facial recognition, even with a mask on? Here are a few other features to be considered:

  • Spacing between the eyes – In fact, even today, law enforcement agencies use the logic that a person who has undergone extensive facial reconstructions to escape the law cannot change this key feature, which has proven to be quite beneficial in nabbing culprits.
  • The ridge of the nose – As a protruding feature of the face, it can be more easily be tracked than the most depressing features of the lower face.
  • The contour of our head, or the shape of our skull, in simplified terms.
  • The shape and angle of alignment of our ears.
  • Shape our lips and the jawline.

A composite of all these features can easily be captured from our photograph on our personal identification documents, such as passports and driving licenses, and compared against the overall scanning performed by the facial recognition application.