The Great British Face-Off

Admin

With the highly anticipated Royal Wedding tomorrow, most of us Brits – and many Americans – can barely contain our excitement. So, get your cuppa, scones and sophisticated facial recognition technology ready. That’s right, the most televised event of the year will be using automated facial recognition.

The Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is the social event of the year, and if you’re not on the guest list, don’t panic. Broadcasters will be using facial recognition technology to help you spot all of the celebrity wedding guests, including stars of Meghan’s former TV show Suits.

Sky News, with the help of tech startups and Amazon Web Services, will broadcast the wedding with a service called ‘Who’s Who Live’. The facial recognition software will identify guests who will appear as subtitles on our screens. The new functionality will allow Royal Wedding viewers around the world to have a greater insight into one of the biggest live events of the year.

However, it’s not just the Royal Wedding that has been the talk of the headlines this week. You might not have realised it, but facial recognition technology is already in use at large-scale events for security reasons. But as it becomes adopted more widely by police forces, the biggest question on our mind is, can we trust it?

With automated facial recognition technology currently being used by UK police forces without a clear legal basis, the police are scanning thousands of our faces and comparing them against secret databases. However, recent research has revealed the Metropolitan Police has the worst record for using this technology, with alarmingly more than 98 per cent of scans providing incorrect results.

With no legislation, guidance, policy or oversight, facial recognition technology is argued by many to have no place in public. Every person who walks by these cameras will have their face scanned and stored on a police database. If you are one of the unlucky ones who is falsely identified as a match, you might be forced to prove your identity to the police – or be arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. However, the government is working alongside the “evolving” technology and is actively seeking to improve security measures and identify potential or current threats.

Taking a step back, facial recognition technology is also being used in more consumer-driven applications, which we’re comfortable with.

Instead of using passcodes, mobile phones and other consumer electronics can be accessed with our facial features. Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi Corp have all installed ‘FaceTech’ in some of their phones. This is just a small stepping stone towards consumers getting into their cars, houses, and other secure physical locations by simply looking at them.

For the most part, facial recognition technology seems to be encouraging a more seamless relationship between people, payments and possessions, without infringing on our rights because it’s our choice – and that’s the crucial point. As this technology is slowly being integrated into our lives, is it perhaps paving the way for bigger and more “invasive” applications?