In February 2021, the UAE Cabinet announced plans to introduce the more general use of facial recognition systems across various business sectors. Facial recognition is biometric software capable of uniquely identifying or verifying a person by comparing and analysing patterns based on facial contours. Almost instantaneous computations are made based on codes, and key facial features — such as the distance and shape of your eyes, length of chin and forehead, and shape of your mouth are used to create your unique facial geometry.
Facial recognition technology is still primarily used for security purposes, though there is increasing interest in other areas of use such as customer service, unlocking devices in place of passwords, and finding missing persons. The identification element answers the question: “Who are you?” and authentication answers the question: “Are you really who you say you are?”.
Facial recognition has been in use since the 1960s, but recent technological developments mean that it is now as accepted as other biometric identifiers such as fingerprinting, iris recognition, voice recognition and hand scanning.
So how can we expect to see this technology being used in the future?
Face recognition is currently used to instantly identify when known criminals such as shoplifters or those with a history of fraud enter retail or banking premises. Images are matched against large databases of criminals so that security professionals are instantly notified when someone who may pose a threat enters the premises.
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Face recognition can target advertising by analysing to determine approximate age and gender in retail stores, for example. Over time we are likely to see this type of use increasing and, for example, expanding into personalised customer retention services where customers are directed to specific products in store based on past purchases or membership of loyalty programmes.
Finding missing persons or pets
With the increased use of camera surveillance systems worldwide, particularly in open spaces and at transportation hubs, adding facial recognition capabilities means that faces can be scanned to help locate missing persons or victims of human trafficking. The same process can be used to track missing pets.
Helping people of determination
An interesting and emerging use of facial recognition technology is in applications to support people of determination. One of the most recent developments is an app that recognises when people are smiling and can alert blind people with vibration to help them better navigate in social situations. Future uses could, for example, notify someone if a friend or colleague is in attendance at an event or in a public space.
Protecting police and security personnel
Mobile facial recognition apps can provide police officers or security personnel with instant identification from a safe distance. An array of information can be provided that improves their safety by raising any concerns and recommending if they need to be cautious.
Another emerging use of facial recognition is to help diagnose diseases that cause detectable changes in appearance. As technology improves, the use of facial recognition for medical purposes is likely to increase.
Conducting financial transactions
Some countries have already introduced payment options for customers using facial recognition. For example, in China, some companies enable customers to place food orders through a digital menu and use facial recognition as a payment option alongside their mobile number. Another financial use is with bank ATMs, where facial recognition is being introduced to replace cards.
The use of facial recognition systems has become standard at many airports around the world. It has managed to cut waiting times significantly whilst also enhancing security in and around airports. Another benefit, which has become more relevant since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that it helps reduce the amount of physical contact needed when checking individuals’ identity.
Time and attendance
Traditionally, capturing employee’s time and attendance is a relatively manual process, using punching machines, hand scans or fingerprint recognition. These practices often lead to errors in records and friction between supervisors and employees. Access systems using identity cards or punch cards come with their own problems as cards are often misplaced or misused.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, even finger or hand-scan entry systems have become an issue with the need to sanitise between each use, creating significant logistical problems. And all of this is in addition to the cost of the hardware and software needed to operate these systems.
As the need for social distancing, hygiene and minimising of physical contact has become a priority, now is the perfect time to consider an alternative with a facial recognition-based time and attendance system that can eliminate all these problems by automatically capturing an employee’s identity and instantly recording his or her attendance.
Once an employee’s face is registered into the system, the system’s cameras recognise his or her face when the person appears, instantly marking attendance and granting building access as appropriate.
Benefits of using facial recognition for access and attendance include ease of use, speed of registration, reduction in fraudulent access, improved data accuracy and reduced costs.
The HRBluSky HRMS has integrated wide-ranging facial recognition features for time attendance and access management, including the following:
1. Mobile App – a mobile app for all types of mobile devices and operating systems that make the system accessible for employees at a single touch.
2. Geo-Fencing Technology – employees can only log in when they are at the physical premises as employees’ location is mapped with the authorised office locations.
3. Integrated with the payroll management system – the time attendance system is integrated with payroll management, avoiding late attendance or overtime not being recorded effectively.
4. No specialised support requirements – no specific hardware, software or specialised installation and training is required. Automated updates reduce human intervention and make implementation and ongoing use quick and flexible.
5. High accuracy – ensuring that only valid employees can gain access to office premises. Time attendance recording is available to the level of minutes an employee has worked in a day.
6. Increased security – entry and exit of visitors can be recorded, improving overall protection for the organisation.
7. Data accuracy and availability – employee data is available and accurate for audit, analysis and management reports.