It’s on the Bus, at Your Church, and in Your Grocery Store

Written by Ryan Stancil
Posted December 7, 2019

You take the same bus you always do to get to work. Only this time, something is different. Instead of swiping a card, you simply look at a camera. 

You walk into the same store where you always shop. This time, instead of a simple greeting, an employee addresses you by name. They then tell you that you’ve got a discount because you’ve been such a loyal customer. 

You’ve been attending the same church for years, but miss a week or two. One day, you get a phone call. It’s someone from the church checking on you to make sure you’re okay because you haven’t been in a while. 

These are all scenarios that are possible thanks to facial recognition technology. What was once a staple of science fiction has transformed into something common. What started as something used primarily for security purposes has become a feature of everyday consumer technology. 

Most people don’t know it because it’s largely invisible. The camera capturing your image might be behind a screen, or concealed in such a way that it blends in. When it captures your image, it’s stored in a database and can be used for any number of purposes. 

And behind that, there is a thriving industry that is almost as invisible as the technology that it’s built on. 

The Hidden Hand of Progress

Earlier this year, in New York City, the early-morning commute was disrupted when objects thought to be improvised explosives were found on a subway platform. They turned out to be ordinary rice cookers, but police acted on surveillance footage of someone leaving them there. When they had footage of his face, they ran it through software that compared it to millions of stored mugshots and turned up potential matches. The police found their man and he was arrested later that day. 

Stories like these are what are used to sell the technology. The push has been so successful that it has been popping up outside of law enforcement uses for a few years now. You’ve no doubt heard about how many smartphones come with a feature where the screen captures your face and uses that to unlock it. 

Likewise, you may have heard about Homeland Security deploying facial recognition at airports. While it’s mainly being used for international travelers now, it’s not hard to imagine a time in the near future where everyone passing through an airport will have their face scanned, no matter where they’re going. 

And remember the example about the churches above? 

It’s already in place. 

There’s a company called Face-Six that offers a product called Churchix. The churches implement it to keep track of how many people are attending services and how often. Church leaders can then use that information to contact frequent attendees for donations and, as I mentioned, check up on regulars who miss services. 

Not only is the technology being applied in a wide range of areas, it’s also being used in countries all over the world. 

Cities in China offer the option of using a face scan to pay train fare.

Japan plans on implementing the technology ahead of the 2020 Olympics so that athletes and media representatives can access venues. 

Singapore has a project in place where cameras fixed to lamp posts can help authorities find elderly citizens who may have wandered off. 

Like all rapid technological expansion, none of this comes without a cost. Because the technology developed and was adopted so quickly, laws and regulations haven’t been able to keep up. 

That’s what lies at the core of many of the complaints involving the technology and privacy. Privacy advocates point out that there isn’t much transparency when it comes to who is collecting the data. The worry is how long it’s being retained and what is ultimately being done with it. 

For now, policies seem to vary from agency to agency and company to company. This, while governments work to establish standards for how this technology is to be used and the data protected. 

But that doesn’t mean the use of facial recognition technology is going to slow down. If anything, it’s just going to get more common. 

The Hidden Potential

Today, the facial recognition market is worth around $3 billion, but that number could be at least $7 billion by 2024. 

It’s no surprise, then, that companies all over the world are trying to get in on this market before it really takes off. 

Next time you go shopping or to a concert, take a look at any digital advertisements that you come across. Chances are good that there is facial recognition technology lurking behind that screen, scanning the faces of every person in the crowd. 

In many cases, two things are being done. First, demographics like age and gender are being tracked to generate new ads relevant to the people in the building. Second, and more importantly, faces are being scanned and matched against databases that can contain anything from known criminals to suspected terrorists. If a match comes up, authorities can take action ahead of time. In an era where we hear about shootings at schools and places of worship all too often, it’s easy to see why demand for this technology would grow. 

There’s a single company behind this technology, and it’s largely unknown even to the investing public. But the work it’s doing is critical and so the company is poised to take off as the need for its product grows. 

This report gives you all the details on how the technology works. It also tells you what you need to do to get in on this growing market. 

This isn’t something you want to miss out on. This technology fills a critical need. That means a possible big buyout for the company behind it sooner than later. Get started now.

Keep your eyes open,

Ryan Stancil
Contributing Editor, Outsider Club

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