Say facial recognition technology and most people think immediately of surveillance and law enforcement. However, say visual verification and the power of the underlying technology takes on a whole new meaning. We met earlier this week with the Research Director of an exciting UK-based start-up operating in the field and below is what we learned.
Start with the premise that we all want to make our online lives simpler and more secure. Next, consider that all computing devices carry cameras. Put simply, if technology now can authenticate the genuine presence of a person (matching their facial image with a pre-existing picture), then this can be highly empowering. Images are captured with a person’s consent and for their benefit, in marked contrast to how the facial recognition software has historically been deployed.
Many banks and border agencies are either trialling or have adopted this technology, reducing instances of fraud and improving efficiency (shorter log-ons, less queuing), yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine scenarios in the future where there would be no need for passport controls at airports – your image could be verified at the time of plane ticket purchase. Similarly, retailers would no longer need to worry about the risk of under-age alcohol and tobacco purchases.
The broad identity verification technology market is already worth $6bn but could more than double to $12.8bn by 2024, per consultants such as MarketsandMarkets. Many of the large and well-known technology businesses are seeking to establish a foothold in the space, but much of the innovation is currently taking place at the cutting edge, in the private space.
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