Facial recognition is already present in consumer technology: smartphones can be unlocked by simply showing your face; media apps like Facebook and Google Photos can detect who’s in a photo. The next frontier for facial detection is surveillance — and it’s already available for enterprise-level security operations and in some home cameras.
Today at the ISC West Security Conference in Las Vegas, RealNet Networks, a digital media software and services corporation, launched SAFR for Security, a facial recognition platform for live video. According to test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SAFR can detect and match millions of faces in real time with a 99.86% accuracy rate.
SAFR for Security, along with its video management system, leverages facial recognition to automatically identify individuals of interest and track their movements. It’s designed for large enterprises — hospitals, stadiums, corporate campuses, airports and similar places — where security personnel must actively monitor large groups and spaces.
With SAFR, security teams can opt to receive notifications if specific individuals are detected on a video feed. They can also search past footage for specific people in the event they need to conduct forensic analysis.
What does facial recognition mean for home security?
The security applications for facial recognition are clear. A surveillance system equipped with powerful facial technology empowers a security team to respond to suspicious, threatening or banned individuals immediately. A robust video management system like SAFR can also put together the pieces when analyzing a crime or security breach after the fact.
In home security, facial recognition can optimize both safety and convenience. In fact, it’s already being put to use in several products available now. Video doorbells like the Nest Hello (in conjunction with a Nest Aware subscription service) can be programmed to automatically open for certain people. Cameras — such the Tend Insights Linx and Nest Cam IQ — have similar facial detection abilities that allow you to track and check on familiar faces.
Once artificial intelligence features like facial detection, movement detection and event detection become reliable and widespread enough, it could make professionally monitored home security systems effectively obsolete.
What about errors and privacy?
While facial recognition technology has already proven useful, it has met a mixed reaction. For one, it has been unreliable. A recent large-scale experiment conducted by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority was an evident failure. The present batch of home devices can be tricked or make mistakes (maybe they won’t recognize Grandma with her glasses off, or the babysitter’s haircut). Perhaps more importantly, they raise questions about an individual’s right to privacy.
For instance, the Shelby American car museum in Las Vegas has already put SAFR technology to work. Richard Sparkman, the museum’s technology director, praised its security applications and its potential as a customer data aggregator. “SAFR for Security makes it simple to maintain higher security in public and restricted areas in our facility and helps us understand who is moving through our museum by age, gender, and time of day — allowing us to better tailor our museum experience,” he said in a press release. It’s unclear whether or not visitors are aware of being monitored or if they consent to their personal data being tracked this closely.
As pointed out by Molly Price of CNET, facial recognition also introduces ethical dilemmas to the home. Data collection, especially biometric data collection, is a charged subject on the Internet and in the law. Many argue that consumers and private citizens have a right to decide how their personal data may be used and stored. By extension, facial recognition in public and private security cameras (which store data on the cloud or a private server) would represent a violation of that right.
Facial recognition represents just a fraction of the artificial intelligence technology that is poised to enter everyday life. In our homes and in public, we will need to answer the question: when should safety and convenience take priority over privacy and individual freedom?
Source: RealNetworks, Inc.