Advertisers Are Watching You: Inside The World Of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial Recognition TechnologyLesley Stahl demonstrates advancements in facial recognition technology for 60 Minutes.

If you thought that facial recognition software was just some obscure, futuristic technology that only has real-life applications in sci-fi flicks like “Minority Report” and “Gattaca,” think again.

Big business has refined facial identification. And it is everywhere.

As Lesley Stahl reported on “60 Minutes” last weekend, “the ability of computers to identify faces has gotten 100 times better, a million times faster, and exponentially cheaper.”

The “60 Minutes” segment gives an in-depth account of all the scary advancements in the field – highlighting the technology’s ability to track your whereabouts, mine your personal data, and even predict your social security number.

If you’re not too freaked out to learn more about the insidious ubiquity of facial ID-ing, we’ve summarized the 60 Minutes segment in the slideshow below. 

Carnegie Mellon's science lab created a toy drone outfitted with facial recognition software so advanced that it can identify a face from a far distance. The lab's research is expected to take surveillance to a whole other level.

The facial recognition software can either capture real people from its cameras or convert a flat image into a 3D model.

Faceprints can be used for an individual's security needs. For example, to make sure no one accesses private files on a mobile device, a user would be able to use his or her faceprint as the sole password.

Intel released an online promotional video to demonstrate how mall billboards can scan faces.

Advertisers would use facial recognition in mall billboards, for example, to tailor its message to the specific consumer looking at the signage. In this instance, a teenage girl sees a shoe promotion held at a shop a few stores down.

Hitachi is developing surveillance cameras that can detect its customers faces. Here's a still from a recent online sales video released by the Japanese firm that demonstrates the new technology.

Online companies are going to town building large data banks of faceprints which are filled with images retrieved from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. They are developing ways to link our faces to our online profiles and shopping history.

A new app called Facedeals allows marketers to track consumers off-line as much as they do online. The company installs cameras at the entrance of brick-and-mortar businesses that scan customers' faces. If said customer opts into the app on Facebook and verifies his or her photograph, then Facedeals texts them about good deals while shopping inside.

According to Carnegie Mellon information technology and public policy professor Alessandro Acquisti, smart phones may make facial searches as common as Google searches. His research revealed that facial recognition software can sometimes even access social security numbers.

There are some counter-measures people can take to avoid getting scanned by surveillance cameras. Some people are overlaying their faces with patterns that interfere with face recognition algorithms.

To leverage facial recognition technology, the FBI has installed rows of servers to store the world's largest biometric database. So far, the initiative has cost them over a billion dollars. But don't worry, you have to have a criminal record in order for the feds to legally save your image.

Yes, facial recognition technology will probably invade your privacy, but there is a way for you to control your online identity.

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