My Tech Talk Topic: Facial Recognition Software

Every crime TV show has the cliché scene of an investigator using some kind of computer with facial recognition software to catch the bad guy. This type of software has become widely used by researchers, businesses, and social media platforms. This blog post will dive into:


  • The background of facial recognition software
  • What the software measures
  • The relevance to today’s business world

The first semi-automated facial recognition system was created in the 1960’s by Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson (DuVal, 2012). This was a simple program that recognized, “…eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth on a photograph” (DuVal, 2012).

Now, facial recognition software has become increasingly complex. The most recent software defines facial features as nodal points (Bonsor and Johnson, 2011). “Each human face has approximately 80…” of these nodal points (Bonsor and Johnson, 2011). Below is what the most current software measures:

  • Distance between eyes
  • Width of nose
  • Depth of eye sockets
  • Shape of cheekbones
  • Length of jaw line

These measurements are used to create, “…a numerical code, called a faceprint…” (Bonsor and Johnson, 2011). Basically, this kind of software can create a 2D version of a face to keep in a database.

This kind of software has become increasingly relevant in our everyday life. It can be used to tag your pictures on Facebook, unlock your phone, to advertise, to find missing people, among many other things (Leadem, 2016). Some people argue about the privacy issues this kind of software can intrude on. Below is a short clip about Facebook integrating this kind of software onto their website in 2011 and the rising issues of using it.

Tesco wants to take targeting ads even further, by, “…installing screens in petrol stations that will scan customers’ faces to determine their gender and age so it can run tailored ads” (Leadem, 2016). Kind of creepy right? The line between what businesses can do and should do to market to their customers can become blurred with these kinds of new, budding technologies.

I chose this particular topic because of its relevance on social media and in our everyday lives. The software that Facebook uses people use every time they post a picture, it can tag your friends without you even needing to type in who is in your pictures. Even though this may seem simple for Facebook to do, the software behind it is extremely sophisticated and complex.

In the end, will these types of technologies actually help improve our way of life? Or are we headed toward a Big Brother path?


Bonsor K, Johnson R. (2011). How Facial Recognition Systems Work. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from

DuVal, Ashley. (2012). Face Recognition Software. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from

Leadem, Rose (2016). 10 Amazing Uses of Facial Recognition Technology. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from

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