Imagine If the World Worked Like Your Phone

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted October 16, 2020

How many of you use your face to unlock your phone?

I know it’s not all of you.

But you’ve probably at least seen a lot of people doing it, right?

They hold their phone up directly in front of their face, it unlocks, and boom, they’re swiping and typing.

An entire universe of apps, media, information, and services instantly at their disposal.

It seems to be the preferred method for young people especially.

And that should tell you something about the direction we’re headed.

There will come a day when your face is literally opening doors for you — both physically and metaphorically.

In fact, in some places, that day has already arrived

Just look at Singapore…

The Pacific hub had one of the highest smartphone adoption rates in the world, with more than 90% of the population using them, compared to roughly 70% for the United States.

It also boasts one of the world’s most advanced national digital identity programs, SingPass, which residents can use for more than 400 digital services, including banking, accessing tax returns, and applying for public housing.

And now, they’re making that entire network accessible via facial recognition through a program dubbed SingPass Face Verification.

First tested back in July, the new feature allows users to securely log in to their accounts without using a password and is available at public kiosks as well as on home computers, tablets, and smartphones.

It’s efficient, and thanks to complex new technology, more secure than you might think.

That is, instead of just verifying the face being presented to the camera, the system uses the screen to illuminate a user's face with a cryptographic sequence of colors. It takes less than seven seconds and it can be used on any device that has a screen.

No impostor can predict or replicate the color sequence that’s broadcast onto a person’s face and live human faces reflect the colors differently from photos, screens, or masks.

This is all part of Singapore’s $1.75 billion Smart Nation initiative, which has revamped online government services, providing access to open data, adding interconnected lampposts with sensors, and introducing cashless payment systems.

And other, larger countries will follow suit.

It’s just going to take some time, no question.

But the creep has already begun.

For example, U.S. airlines are already using facial recognition technology to scan passengers at boarding gates, saving passengers roughly nine minutes of boarding time.

And the Department of Homeland Security says it plans to use facial recognition at the top 20 airports for all international air travelers by 2021 — and ALL airports by 2023.

This initiative has been accelerated by President Trump, who mandated its adoption in Section 8 of Executive Order 13769.

As a result, any person flying into, or out of, the United States on an international flight will have their faces scanned, photographed, and compared to their passport picture.

It’s a tall task, as more than 100 million passengers travel on 16,300 international flights per week.

But it’s already paying off.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it’s processed more than 19 million travelers using facial recognition technology in airports and at borders, catching 135 "impostors" whose identities did not match their ID documents.

It’s also identified more than 7,000 people overstaying their visas.

The government’s end vision is for CBP to build a vast “backend communication portal to support TSA, airport, and airline partners in their efforts to use facial images as a single biometric key for identifying and matching travelers to their identities.”

In layman’s terms, this means that facial recognition will also be used for things like check-in, baggage drop, security checkpoints, lounge access, boarding, and other ancillary processes.

This technology will streamline air travel, allowing passengers to check bags, move through security, and board a plane much more quickly.

Furthermore, facial recognition software is being tucked discreetly into digital advertisements where it scans crowds and passers-by for guns and looks for known criminals.

That technology is being deployed not just at airports, but concert venues, stadiums, and convention centers.

So the technology is here even if you haven’t seen it yourself.

It’s going to keep spreading, too...

Until one day you wake up and the world is just one big smartphone screen.

Fight on,

Jason Simpkins Signature

Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of Wall Street's Proving Ground, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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