Facial recognition software may sound like a complex and advanced technology, but chances are that you are already using facial recognition every day. Apple iPhone users have been using facial recognition to unlock their phones for years now. Now, many companies are taking a similar approach to control access to their buildings, data and more.

This article will provide an overview of facial recognition software and how businesses can use it. If you would like to explore specific facial recognition tools, check out our round-up of the top facial recognition software vendors.

What is facial recognition software?

Facial recognition software is a biometric tool that analyzes a person’s facial features to match or confirm their identity. Facial recognition software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to scan each face and compare its unique identifiers against a database of images.

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This software was initially primarily used by law enforcement and government agencies to identify potential suspects and conduct surveillance or security efforts. However, now many companies use facial recognition for their own internal security purposes. Most often facial recognition is used by companies to limit access to information, equipment or premises.

How does facial recognition software work?

Each facial recognition software has its own unique techniques and features, but facial recognition software tools typically all work in a similar manner overall.

The first step is for the software to detect a face in an image. This image may be uploaded into the system or captured through a connected device. Once the software detects a face, it analyzes the geometry of the face in the images, including the size and space between different facial features.

This facial analysis results in a large number of metrics being captured. These metrics essentially turn the image into a set of numbers like a code. That code is then transmitted into a database of images so that the software can try to find a match. If a match is found, then the computer can identify the subject in the photo or verify their identity to provide access to the system or facility.

How do businesses use facial recognition software?

Facial recognition is a tool historically associated with law enforcement use, but businesses can also benefit from the technology. Here are some common uses of facial recognition software.

Access control

Facial recognition is starting to replace fingerprints as the preferred biometric reading for access control within some organizations. Images may be captured through a camera at the door of a company building or a secured area within the building and then matched within an employee database to ensure that access is only granted to authorized staff members.

This can also be done through a webcam to control access to online resources. This added layer of security is helpful for organizations with remote employees as it ensures that sensitive data is only accessible when the employee is in front of the computer. If the device is stolen, it can safeguard the data or files so that the thief cannot access them.

Employee time tracking

Biometric time clocks are a popular option for employers that want to ensure the accuracy of their employees’ time punches. Under a standard time clock with a pin number or punch card, an employee that is running late or wants to leave early could simply ask a coworker to punch them in or out. This is sometimes called buddy punching. Unless they have an identical twin that also works in the building that system won’t work with a facial recognition time clock.

User verification

A number of apps and websites use facial recognition software to verify users. Social media and dating apps often do a simple facial recognition verification process to ensure that a photo captured via the in-app camera (often in a specific pose) is the same person in the user’s profile photos.

Facial recognition is also used by some applications including gig economy apps, investing apps, and finance sites to verify that the user’s photo on their government identification matches their face on a live capture. This is used to prevent people from signing up with stolen ID cards.

Should businesses use facial recognition software?

The use of facial recognition software has been at times controversial. Many people have privacy concerns regarding facial recognition. Employees sometimes worry that corporations will start using facial recognition to spy on them during the workday. The potential for the data and related personal information to be sold or stolen during a breach is also a concern.

Businesses that are considering implementing facial recognition software should carefully consider how they will use the software and should spend some time reviewing the software vendor’s privacy and security policies. When used appropriately for verification purposes with a reliable and secure software vendor, facial recognition can be a great tool for businesses.

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