A world filled with mobile devices capable of instantly recognizing anyone's face can seem both empowering and scary. It's empowering because ordinary consumers can expect to eventually wield such power in their handheld and wearable devices; it's scary because the government, corporations and strangers on the street could use the same devices.
The merest hint of such a future prompted eight members of the U.S. Congress to help pressure Google into blocking facial-recognition technology on its "Google Glass" smart glasses. But for years, the technology has already helped law enforcement and casinos to identify wanted — or unwanted — individuals captured on surveillance cameras. Facial-recognition capability has also begun appearing on the smartphones of police officers and even ordinary consumers.
"On the low end, laptops can provide a face unlock feature, similar to what is done with smartphones," said Joshua Klontz, a research scientist at Michigan State University. "On the opposite end, full server racks can be used to conduct searches against millions of face images, as I suspect will be the case when the FBI's NGI (Next Generation Identification) system becomes operational."
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