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Definition: facial recognition

Detecting people by matching a captured image of their face with a database of faces. Facial recognition is used to detect criminals in democratic societies and political dissidents in autocratic countries. It is also used to grant secure access to a computer, mobile device or e-commerce website simply by looking into the camera.

Various technologies map the characteristics of a person's face into a multidimensional face space. Computers can conduct facial database searches and perform real-time verifications with unprecedented accuracy and split-second processing.

Even With a Change of Appearance
A facial recognition system can distinguish the same person with or without glasses, change of hair style and seasonal change of skin color. State-of-the-art systems cannot be easily fooled by photographs or by someone else who looks similar. See iris recognition, information security and biometrics.

Facial Biometrics
A face is digitized and matched against the face database to determine if the person is authorized to enter a facility or use a system. (Image courtesy of Miros, Inc.)

Facial Surveillance
Cognitec's FaceVACS-VideoScan software tracks multiple faces simultaneously as they walk by. The system provides essential statistics such as people flow, visitor demographics and behavior. It even determines each person's approximate age.