Facial recognition cameras and machine learning are rapidly evolving. Just a few years ago, these technologies were relegated to science fiction. Now, they are real and widespread.
The use cases are broad. From helping banks identify customers to enabling governments to identify criminals, facial recognition is changing how companies and countries operate.
As a robotics business, you may be wondering which markets are best suited for facial recognition. To answer this, here are the top five countries where facial recognition cameras and algorithms are taking off the fastest.
China deploys millions of facial recognition cameras
China is the world leader when it comes to deploying facial recognition. It has 170 million closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, with another 400 million expected in the next three years. Many of these cameras have AI and facial recognition. At the same time, in 2017, China filed for more than 900 facial recognition patents, compared with the 96 patents filed in the U.S.
Police in Nanchang used facial recognition cameras to identify a criminal alongside 50,000 other concertgoers. Meanwhile, in a railway station in Hanan province, police officers are using smart glasses with facial recognition to catch criminals.
Facial recognition is also automating police work. If people jaywalk in Shenzhen, facial recognition could catch them and display their faces and names on an LED billboard to “name and shame” them. They are also sent a text with their fines.
Schools are also finding uses for identification technology. Students at a high school in Hangzhou are being scanned by facial recognition cameras every 30 seconds to analyze their behavior and detect emotional states. In addition, applicants to the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing must register their faces through an app.
Facial recognition is also dominating service delivery in China. To board the subway in Shanghai, facial and voice-recognition technology is verifying people and allowing them to pass through the gates. The same technology is in Beijing’s subway station.
To withdraw money in Jinan City, three branches of a bank are allowing customers to use their faces in place of their bank cards.
If all of that isn’t enough, then consider this: In some restrooms in Beijing, facial recognition cameras are deciding how much toilet paper to dispense in a move intended to stop toilet paper theft.
For China, the main theme is government control and efficiency. Through facial recognition, Beijing can better keep tabs on what its citizens are doing. And businesses can speed up transactions and sales.
UAE uses facial recognition for public safety
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a world leader in the adoption of new technologies, and facial recognition is no exception.
For instance, the UAE is testing AI for border control. At the Dubai Airport, a virtual aquarium is fitted with 80 facial recognition cameras that scan people as they walk through the aquarium. The system then either clears them for entry into the country or alerts security personnel.
Related to this is a plan to automate immigration officers in the UAE by 2020 by using AI and facial recognition to decide who can enter the country.
The UAE is also looking to facial recognition to improve safety. In preparation for Expo 2020, police in Dubai will deploy tens of thousands of facial recognition cameras to identify criminals as part of a project called “Oyoon.”
But these cameras won’t just capture and analyze footage. They will also send out “verbal warnings” to people to stop them from doing something.
At the same time, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior is testing police cars that are outfitted with facial recognition cameras. As these cars patrol streets, they will be able to identify criminals and wanted vehicles.
Alongside this, police in Abu Dhabi are planning to use smart glasses that can scan hundreds of faces in a crowd and identify people to apprehend.
Transportation safety is another area for facial recognition in the UAE. To keep passengers safe, buses in Dubai are being fitted with facial recognition cameras to analyze the state of bus drivers and see whether they are in a state to operate the vehicles.
For the UAE, the main theme is security and public safety.
Japan watches workers, gamblers, drivers
Like China, Japan is deploying facial recognition across the board.
For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, facial recognition cameras will be used to allow athletes and media to enter venues. About 300,000 to 400,000 people will have their faces approved. The goal is to boost security by not relying on ID cards, which can be forged or duplicated.
Sleepy workers could be jolted into awareness in future offices, thanks to a test of facial recognition cameras and surveillance. If workers are caught sleeping on the job, they could be blasted with cold air.
Japanese airports are another venue for facial recognition. Japan’s Ministry of Justice plan to deploy the technology to all major airports next year. It will scan foreigners before they leave Japan, speeding departures, and allow airports to send more staffers to the arrivals part of the airport.
Unlike other countries, Japan is applying facial recognition to address societal challenges, like gambling addiction. Japanese casinos are exploring advanced facial recognition cameras that can tell how many times a person has entered a casino.
Japanese businesses are also turning to facial recognition. Subaru has integrated expression recognition cameras into its Forrester brand of SUVs. The new vehicles can tell when a driver is tired or falling asleep and can take action if an accident could happen.
At McDonald’s restaurants in Japan, facial recognition cameras are tracking employee behavior, including how much they are smiling. If an employee isn’t smiling enough, a system alerts them, saying their “smiley-face is below standard.”
Retailers throughout Japan are using AI-powered cameras to stop shoplifters. In a trial run, the system resulted in thefts dropping 40%.
Meanwhile, several banks in Japan are using facial recognition to verify purchases made by employees. Purchases are then deducted from the employee’s wages at the end of the month. Banks in Japan are also looking at using facial recognition to enable a new kind of smartphone banking system in the country.
In Japan, facial recognition isn’t just being used for security; it’s also a tool for monitoring employee productivity. As an aging workforce is encouraging the nation to rely more heavily on automation.
Singapore applies innovations to elder care, hospitality
Singapore is often described as the high-tech capital of Asia. And this image is being bolstered by the use of facial recognition in creative ways.
For example, the Singaporean government is leading a project called Lamppost-as-a-Platform (LaaP). Through LaaP, all 110,000 lampposts in Singapore will be fitted with cameras connected to facial recognition software. The government said it wants to use LaaP to improve security and reduce terrorism.
One of the companies bidding is Yitu Technology, a Chinese firm that also supplied facial recognition cameras to a police force in Malaysia. Singapore is also looking at using facial recognition to find elderly people who are lost in the city, something which is already active in China.
Meanwhile Singapore’s Changi Airport is testing facial recognition cameras to spot travelers who are late or lost. Already Changi Airport’s T4 terminal is using facial recognition to allow passengers to check in on their own, including immigration and boarding.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is looking at facial recognition and other technologies to make hotels smarter, allowing people to check in easier and pay for things faster. The STB has also backed a facial recognition system that allows people to check into their hotel rooms through a selfie.
Singapore’s OCBC bank has also deployed facial recognition cameras to one of its branches. The cameras can identify certain tiers of customers as they arrive and then informs the bank’s manager who can greet them personally, prepare tailored drinks and more.
Singapore’s subway system is exploring doing away with physical cards and instead allowing people to enter terminals through facial recognition. They will then be charged through credit cards.
As in other nations, Singapore’s police are turning to facial recognition. They have established a “Smart Command Center” concept that uses facial recognition software to identify criminals. The command center is plugged into CCTV cameras throughout the city.
In addition, a Multi-purpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robot (MATAR) has been developed for Singapore’s police. The robot has several capabilities, including real-time facial recognition.
For Singapore, facial recognition is part of a broader strategy to make the entire city-state “smart.” Note that Singapore is importing its facial recognition technology mainly from two countries: China and Japan. This is a geopolitical risk for Singapore as the island nation becomes dependent on foreign technology.
The U.S. catches up with facial recognition
While the U.S. has the potential to deploy facial recognition at the same scale as China, adoption of the technology has been slow. However, things may be changing now. As of 2016, almost 50% of all adults in the U.S. were in facial recognition databases operated by police stations.
American airports are increasingly turning to facial recognition. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has been experimenting with facial recognition cameras at 13 airports.
Following the experiment, Orlando International Airport was selected as the first airport in the country to use facial recognition to scan all international visitors. It takes less than 2 seconds to analyze a face and the system has 99% accuracy.
At the same time, a program called “Biometric Exit,” which tracks people with visas leaving the U.S. through facial recognition could be deployed at airports across the country. The federal government is also planning to use facial recognition at border crossings with Mexico to scan people and vehicles.
Local governments are also leading facial recognition adoption for security. Officials said that the recent Maryland shooter was identified through facial recognition technology, reported CNN. However, civil rights advocates have expressed concern about overreach and privacy violations.
The state of California purchased a $1.8 million facial recognition system from a Japanese firm that can conduct 1.5 million searches every day. It is one of the most advanced systems in the world, but it is unclear whether the system is in use.
As in Japan, the private sector is as important as the military or police for facial recognition advances and adoption. Bank of America is working with foreign and local firms to develop iris and facial recognition technology for customer security. And Microsoft has called on the U.S. government to introduce regulations for facial recognition technology to ensure the technology isn’t abused or results in bias.
For the US, the main theme is security. All the main deployments of facial recognition technology in the US have to do with airport security, border security or policing. And, they are all backed by the government (state, federal and local), which is different from the past, when new technologies took off largely thanks to the private sector.
Increasing markets, acceptance of facial recognition
By 2022, the global market for facial recognition cameras and software will be worth $7.76 billion, predicts Markets and Markets. As facial recognition takes off around the world, robotics businesses must understand the key differences so they can sell better.
Equally important is geopolitics, in this case, which countries become the primary providers and consumers of the technology. One jurisdiction’s claims of security needs could be viewed as government or corporate spying in another.
Your organization’s plans for competitiveness and marketing will depend on local environments as much as on improvements in cameras or AI.