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Facing the Future: Face recognition technology in Japanese daily life

September 28, 2017

Fingerprint payment systems like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay are gaining popularity due to their ease of use and high security. However, the announcement of Apple's facial recognition technology named Face ID, will introduce the wider public to the convenience of facial biometrics. The combination of facial recognition technology with Internet connected cameras and advanced AI, will revolutionize a number of older industries and may even create new ones. Below are a few examples of how this new technology is already affecting retail, entertainment, tourism and security.

RETAIL:

Japanese banking and retail companies have been experimenting with new payment and verification applications based on NEC's NeoFace® facial recognition technology. While currently limited to the testing phase, it shouldn't be too long until this technology makes it to ATMs and registers. Another interesting experiment was recently unveiled by an affiliate of Alibaba Ant Financial, at a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou, China. Its facial pay system caught the attention of the international media because it offered a window into the future potential of this technology.

ENTERTAINMENT:

Apple's recent event focused on the ability of its new Face ID primarily to unlock the phone, verify identity for payments, and provide improved front facing photographic quality. However, one of the surprise applications of this new technology is the introduction of Apple's new animated emoji or ‘animoji.' These new animoji are created by applying the sender's facial expressions to a set of emoji to allow people to add a unique and personal flair to their messages. While these are still a silly feature for early adaptors, it is only a matter of time before Apple and other app developers find new and exciting ways to apply this technology.

TOURISM:

In preparation for the 2020 Olympics, Japan will introduce an automatic facial recognition system at 156 ports and airports for foreigners entering the country as part of anti-terrorism measures. Utilizing this type of system should both improve security at the borders and help with the management of the large influx of tourists. Hotels and casinos are also testing out facial recognition systems as a way to check registered guest information, identify VIPs & alert staff to undesirable guests.

SECURITY: Enterprise & Governmental

The combination of increasing global travel and the threat of terrorism is making video face recognition technology a crucial security tool. This technology identifies the faces of moving subjects in real-time as they walk naturally past cameras. One of the market leaders in large-scale facial recognition technology is the Japanese company NEC. The company's face recognition technology has been implemented in more than 100 systems in 40 countries worldwide. Their technology has also been ranked first four times in the Face in Video Evaluation (FIVE) – a face recognition benchmark by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NEC's face recognition technology uses deep learning technologies to increase accuracy of face matching to a level where an individual can be identified by a low-resolution face image captured by a distant camera. The benefits of high-speed video analysis include the prevention of potential incidents through detection of suspicious individuals and recognition of individuals at the gateways of critical facilities. These advantages will be extremely important for the smooth and safe running of major international events like the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond.

SECURITY: Consumer

Facial recognition technology could radically shake up the way consumers interact with a wide variety of systems. However, one question that many people have is, how secure and reliable is facial recognition technology?

Samsung, one of the Apple's biggest rivals, admits that the facial recognition in the Galaxy S8 is not as secure as other locking options. This vulnerability was displayed when the phone was famously fooled by a photograph, which pressured Samsung to warn users that the feature on their device was meant for convenience, not for security. With the new iPhone X and Face ID, Apple claims that the chances of someone else being able to gain access to their phone at one in one million. This would make it far more secure than the Galaxy S8 and even Apple's own fingerprint sensor (1 in 50,000 according to Apple). To achieve this reliability and security, Apple will augment Face ID with its new TrueDepth camera that uses a ‘Dot Projector' to project roughly 30,000 invisible dots to map your face. This is similar to how Microsoft's Windows Hello operates, which as they claim can even tell the difference between twins. This facial mapping data is stored locally on your phone within the ‘Secure Enclave' on the new A11 Bionic chip and away from would-be hackers. Apple's system also ensures that parents won't have to worry about their kids holding the phone up to their face to buy apps and products while they are sleeping.

The iPhone X will utilize machine learning to provide Adaptive Recognition. This means the system will recognize changes in your appearance so that even if you cut your hair, grow a beard, or wear glasses or a hat your IPhone will still recognize you. To achieve this reliability and security, Apple will augment Face ID with its new TrueDepth camera that uses a ‘Dot Projector' to project roughly 30,000 invisible dots to map your face. This mapping data is stored locally on your phone within the ‘Secure Enclave' on the new A11 Bionic chip and away from would-be hackers. Apple's system also ensures that parents won't have to worry about their kids holding the phone up to their face to buy apps and products while they are sleeping.

While still relatively early in its development, facial recognition technologies will continue to advance rapidly alongside related technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). This digitalization of society is already being experienced throughout a wide range of fields including retail, tourism, and security. It will create new value to industry while increasing global safety, security and convenience for us all. In the meantime, why not leave your wallet at home and enjoy a taste of the future by paying for your next latte with a smile!

References and more info:

Apple's Face ID

https://www.apple.com/iphone-x/

https://www.wired.com/story/iphone-x-faceid-security/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/04/11/smartphone-fingerprint-scanners-could-easily-fooled-fake-prints/

NEC Facial Recognition

http://www.nec.com/en/press/201703/global_20170316_01.html

https://www.guidingtech.com/63007/facial-recognition-pay-bills-nec/

http://www.nec.com/en/press/201607/global_20160719_01.html

http://www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/hospitality/security_face/

Alibaba Face Pay

https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/03/alibaba-debuts-smile-to-pay/

Japan facial recognition for Immigration

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/17/facial-recognition-japanese-entry

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/04/national/ministry-unveils-plan-for-facial-recognition-to-speed-up-airport-entryexit-process/

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