Facial technology is advancing and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced that they are seeking new self-processing systems for Australian airports which includes facial and fingerprint recognition of travelers without presenting their passports. 

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said a $78 million upgrade of self-processing systems were aimed at reducing the time consumed by airport staff in paperwork and manual processing that will make it quicker for the 90% of travelers going in and out of the airports. Not only will it boost the security of our nation’s borders but it’ll also give tourism a boost. 

While facial technology is evolving at incredibly fast rates, it is believed there may be a significant lack of understanding and research into the challenges presented by cosmetic and plastic surgery.

Facial recognition Basics

Facial recognition systems are the fastest and least intrusive methods used to identify an individual. It is already used in some airports, border security, and banks, and works by utilizing biometric data of the human face. It analyzes and measures the overall facial structure and distances of the facial features over 80 nodal points. This includes: 

  • The distance between the eyes
  • The depth of the eye socket
  • Nose width
  • The shape of the cheekbones
  • Jaw Length

The facial recognition system uses a four-stage process to match the individual’s face before the camera and in the facial database. Highly intelligent algorithms are designed to accurately combat facial variations, however, the challenges posed are effects of aging, make-up, and cosmetic surgery. 

Will cosmetic procedures be a problem of face recognition systems?

In a study conducted in 2013, researchers found that make-up can substantially change the skin’s quality and color, reduce the size and change the facial shape and features, and conceal identifiable characteristics like wrinkles, scars, and birthmarks. Even moreso, cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery, depending on the treatment, could potentially pose a greater challenge according to a study done in 2009.  

The results of the study suggested that any variation to the face could affect the performance of the facial recognition system. Algorithms were unable to process global facial plastic surgery such as full facelift because the individual’s features and the texture of the skin changed substantially. The facial recognition system and its algorithms struggled to correctly and accurately classify enhanced faces. The study suggests even with the advancements in technology, cosmetic treatments, and plastic surgery proves a new challenge in facial recognition.

 

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