Facial biometrics is a broad umbrella term that encompasses both facial recognition and facial authentication. Facial biometrics are ways to authenticate a user’s identity based on their face. Facial biometric software captures, analyzes and verifies identities via comparison to either a database (recognition) or single photograph (authentication). The technology accomplishes this by collecting unique biometric data of each person.
Two prominent technologies used today fall under the category of Facial Biometrics–facial recognition and facial authentication.
This area of biometric technology has impressive use cases that are only growing more prominent by the day, with clear benefits provided by each of these distinct Facial Biometrics approaches.
What Is Facial Biometrics?
Facial Biometrics is a broad umbrella term that encompasses both facial recognition and facial authentication. Facial Biometrics are ways to authenticate a user’s identity based on measuring and analyzing their facial features, including:
- Size and shape of eyes
- Distance between eyes
- Width and curvature of the mouth
- Notable facial features
- Position of the ears
- Shape of the hairline
- Shape of the cheekbones
- Jaw structure/shape
The main applications of Facial Biometrics include:
- Identification (Facial Recognition): To identify individuals by comparing captured facial features against a database of stored facial templates
- Authentication (Facial Authentication): To verify an individual’s identity, allowing access to secure areas, devices, or systems
How Does Facial Biometrics Work?
Facial biometric software captures, analyzes, and verifies identities via comparison to either a database (recognition) or a single photograph (authentication).
The technology accomplishes this by collecting unique biometric data of each person and analyzing the unique patterns and geometry of their facial features. The digital mapping of each person’s facial features can then be used for authentication or recognition purposes, depending on the exact scenario.
What Is Facial Recognition?
Facial recognition is a biometric authentication category that uses a “one-to-many” system, where a system detects and locates the image of a face, captures and analyzes it, then converts it to data so it can be compared against a database of known faces.
Typically, facial recognition is applied by law enforcement agencies to seek a match for potential suspects or witnesses out of a crowd of people.
What Is Facial Authentication?
Different from facial recognition, facial authentication, or facial verification, is a form of identity verification and Facial Biometrics based on “one-to-one” matching technology, mostly used for account protection and security.
In this context, someone gives consent for their face to be used as a verified image or identity source for a given system, network, or device, similar to an ID card or passport. Then, future attempts to access the desired location will require the user’s face to be scanned and compared against the stored verified face before being granted access. If the system determines there is not a match, the user will not be able to gain access.
In practice, this is commonly used on mobile devices and other electronics today to secure the device and offer a more streamlined experience compared to using a password log-in or entry.
What Is the Difference Between Facial Recognition and Facial Authentication?
There are quite a few similarities between facial recognition and facial authentication since they both fall under the Facial Biometrics category. However, there are some important differences between the two that we will now discuss in further detail:
- Scope: Facial recognition is a broader technology, encompassing identification across databases, while facial authentication is more focused on confirming identity for specific purposes
- Application: Facial recognition is used for surveillance, law enforcement, and large-scale identification. Facial authentication is used for personal devices, secure systems, and access control.
Understanding these two main distinctions between facial recognition and facial authentication can help you gain a clearer picture of how the two forms of Facial Biometrics differ, and the areas where they’re quite similar.
Benefits of Facial Biometrics
Including both facial authentication and facial recognition, we will now break down the main benefits of Facial Biometrics technology.
1. Efficiency and Accuracy:
Since Facial Biometrics systems are based on the subjective measurements of an individual’s facial features, this gives administrators a clear and accurate way to authenticate or recognize individuals based on a simple facial scan. Rather than needing to rely on human judgment to verify someone’s identity or point out a suspect in a sea of people, Facial Biometrics tools streamline this process for better efficiency and accuracy.
2. Enhanced Security:
Since facial features are practically impossible to replicate with 100% accuracy, Facial Biometrics offers enhanced security where applied. This helps to ensure that only authorized users can be granted access to a given device, system, or network. Plus, it can be used to accurately identify criminal suspects and perpetrators for better public safety.
3. User-Friendly and Convenient:
In the context of facial authentication, using a face scan to log into a system or device is a much more streamlined and user-friendly experience than having to remember various passwords and login information for different systems. Simply by looking into a camera, a user’s identity can be verified in mere seconds.
Use Cases of Facial Biometrics
The possible use cases of Facial Biometrics can differ depending on what context it’s being applied–for facial authentication or for facial recognition. Below, you will find examples of possible applications for each area of Facial Biometrics.
Facial authentication technology has a wide range of possible use cases which span across various industries and sectors, including:
- Device Access: Commonly used in smartphones and other electronic devices for quick and secure device login
- Financial Services: Facial authentication can be used for making secure transactions and account access
- Retail and Marketing: Used to enhance the consumer experience by recognizing previous customers for more accurate recommendations, loyalty tracking, etc.
- Workplace: On the job, Facial Recognition can help keep employee attendance, grant authorized personnel access to certain facilities and more
- Healthcare: Facial Recognition can facilitate quicker patient check-ins, secure access to medical records and prescription fulfillment
With some slight overlap, here are some of the common applications of facial recognition technology today:
- Security: In public spaces, airports, or other premises, facial recognition can be used for real-time surveillance to enhance security
- Law Enforcement: Law enforcement agencies can use facial recognition to identify and track possible suspects or witnesses
- Border Control and Immigration: This technology can be used at border crossings and immigration checkpoints to identify wanted suspects
- Retail: Facial recognition can be used for customer analytics like demographics, foot traffic, or customer behavior to improve marketing