How Unique Is Your Face?

Facial recognition technology has come a long way. It has emerged as one of the preferred means to authenticate one’s identity. In most scenarios, facial recognition is being treated at par with other authentication modes such as PIN, password and fingerprint. Facial recognition is also being used extensively at public places like airports, border check points, banks, etc. to ensure easy and paperless access.

With facial recognition gaining prominence, it makes us wonder if it is safe. Is facial recognition just as secure as password and fingerprint? What is the possibility of someone using our photographs to hack facial recognition systems? To answer such questions, we need to know how unique is our face. Here are some important things to understand in that context.

Can your twin unlock your phone?

In first-generation facial recognition platforms, it may have been possible for twins to use their face to unlock each other’s phones. However, present-day facial recognition technology is far more advanced. These platforms cover minute details about a face, which makes it tough even for a twin to hack it. Moreover, not all twins have the same level of similarities. There may be exceptions, where some twins may be exactly the same. However, in majority of cases, advanced facial recognition systems should be able to distinguish between twins.

Can a 2D image fool facial recognition?

Can anyone gain access by using a printout of your face or creating a mask using 3D printer? The answer is ‘NO’ in most cases, as current facial recognition technology is much smarter than you think. For example, iPhone utilizes TrueDepth camera that creates an intricate map of your face by capturing and analyzing thousands of data points of your face. This makes it near impossible for anyone trying to misuse your photos for hacking facial recognition tech.

Can plastic surgery fool facial recognition?

Such possibilities may exist in theory, but will be difficult to implement in real life. Even after surgery, the level of fat deposits, skin tone and other natural processes will make it difficult to copy another individual’s face. Human eyes will be relatively easier to fool with plastic surgery. Even if such things are attempted, it is unlikely to ever get known in public domain.

Thank your genes

If you wish to show your gratitude to facial recognition tech, you need to thank nature and your genes. Research studies show that it’s an individual’s genes that determine their body type and facial features. It’s nature’s way to ensure that we can recognize each other without getting confused about who is who. Much of the difference in faces is due to the variable traits found around the eyes, nose and mouth. This triangle region is probably the most important determinant of the uniqueness of our face.

As is clear from above, there is really no reason to doubt the effectiveness of facial recognition. The probability of someone else being able to unlock your device using facial recognition is 1 in many millions. And since passcode kicks in after 5 failed attempts, you can fully trust facial recognition.

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