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Facial Recognition: a Double-Edged Sword

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Biometrics are biological measurements used to identify an individual. Facial recognition, along with fingerprint, iris and speech recognition, are types of biometrics. These are used across various applications, such as access control, attendance tracking, security and surveillance, and others. The global facial recognition market size was valued at USD 3.86 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4% from 2021 to 2028. Among 2D technology, 3D technology and facial analytics, the 3D segment led the facial recognition market with over 36% share of the global revenue in 2020. Cloud-based solutions and facial analytics are expected to increase market growth.

Facial Recognition in Various Sectors

The retail and e-commerce segments led the market in 2020, accounting for over 21% share of the global revenue. This sector has been rapidly adopting face recognition technology to increase efficiency and enhance the in-store experience. Instead of cash, credit/debit cards, facial recognition technology as a means of payment allows shoppers to quickly pay by scanning their faces on smart devices or at kiosks, which results in more secure, fast, and user-friendly payment. It also offers a unique authentication service that identifies, recognizes faces from user databases.

Some of the prominent players in the global facial recognition market include Aware, Inc., Ayonix Corporation, Cognitec Systems GmbH, FacePhi.

Geographic Regions

North America region led the market in 2020, accounting for over 37% share of the global revenue. The major factor contributing to this growth is the wide adoption of facial recognition technology in security and surveillance systems. Furthermore, the rising implementation of facial recognition technology in other sectors like homeland security, justice, defense, amongst others across the U.S. is boosting the market growth. For instance, MorphoTrust, a subsidiary of IDEMIA, is one of the most prominent vendors of biometry products and services in the U.S. It has developed facial recognition systems for state and federal law enforcement agencies, state DMVs, state departments, and airports. Markets in the U.K., France, and Germany are expected to drive the regional market considerably over the forecast period.

The Asia Pacific region is expected to project the highest CAGR over the forecast period. Facial recognition technology is being widely used in developing countries such as India to solve investigation cases. In April 2018, an Indian police force in New Delhi used facial recognition to identify children who have been lost or kidnapped. It was used on approximately 45,000 children throughout the city, out of which around 3000 were found missing. Several countries in the APAC region are taking initiatives to generate electronic id generation of individuals. Initiatives such as the e-KTP project in Indonesia and the UIDAI project in India are creating new opportunities for market penetration in the region.

The Challenges of Facial Recognition Technology

1. Privacy

Although facial recognition makes people’s life a lot safer, it creates privacy concern for a lot of people. Some people believe that being recorded when attending different events is violating privacy, such as sports game, concert, visiting hospital or even just taking a walk in a public area. Many people question the consequences if the technology falls into wrong hand, such as private companies that seeks profit without social responsibilities.

2. Racial Issues

Nowadays, many big tech companies train their AI’s facial recognition technology with white male, this poses racial concern as facial recognition may misinterpret people from other race. The police in the United States is heavily relying on facial recognition to identify suspects on streets, but it has also been subjected to controversy, especially after the George Floyd incident.

3. Opportunities for Fraud and other Crimes

Criminals can use facial recognition technology on innocent citizens. They can use the technology to collect personal confidential information. With the stolen information, the criminals can use it to take out credit card information and stalk innocent citizens.

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