2018 might not have been your year, but nothing is stopping you from taking 2019 head on — or face on if this year’s technological advancements are anything to go by. it might still be in its relative infancy, but it’s already infiltrated your homes, prompted privacy alarms, and has the potential to make state surveillance as easy as 1, 2, 3. facial recognition is on its way to becoming a very topical issue and, in transit, it poses a lot of questions: are faceprints the new fingerprints? who owns the rights to your face? what if your face gets hacked?

disney research facial recognition system caltech designboom

there’s a difference between transparent applications like disney using facial recognition to test spectators reactions to movies, and big brother surveillance without your permission (read more)
image and header image courtesy of disney research



a look back might make the future clearer… when facebook introduced facial recognition in europe this year it promoted it as a way to safeguard online identities. ‘face recognition technology allows us to help protect you from a stranger using your photo to impersonate you,’ it told its users. major smartphone manufacturers had already introduced facial recognition as an unlocking feature so it was regular household technology, what was there to worry about? used to remotely identify people by name without their knowledge or consent, concerns over a mass surveillance system akin george orwell’s 1984 quickly sprung to mind. 


this year a civil rights group protested amazon’s supply of face-matching service rekognition to police. meanwhile, china’s railway police have already started using the dystopian technology. you understand people’s fears of oversharing now and it feels oh-so scary. when the biometric identifier you is your face, how do you protect it? 

designboom TECH predictions 2019: faceprints are the new fingerprints facial recognition

forbes reporter thomas brewster 3D-printed his own head to test how secure the technology really is
image © forbes



according to a recent study hackers will need to 3D print your head if they hope to get into your smartphone. equally worrying though is the ease police will have getting in. in the US, biometrics related to human characteristics including your fingerprints and your face are not protected under the fifth amendment. that means that while police can’t compel you to give up your pass code they can forcibly print your finger print, or hold your face up to your phone to unlock it. 

designboom TECH predictions 2019: faceprints are the new fingerprints facial recognition

beijing police in the highly-policed region of xinjiang have already tested facial-recognition glasses
image via south china morning post



facial recognition is on an upward trajectory with some scary reviews. even popstars want to use it against your will. earlier this month rolling stone reported that concertgoers at a taylor swift concert had their identities scanned by sophisticated facial recognition technology embedded in a large screen playing concert clips. the images were then compared to a database of swift’s known stalkers, in an attempt to protect the singer.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: faceprints are the new fingerprints facial recognition

german computer scientists have developed a thermal imaging system so smart it can identify people
image via dailydot



this year all eyes are on you and cameras never forget a face. saks fifth avenue is one example of a luxury store using faceprints to track VIP customers. german researchers are working to create thermal faceprints by taking heat maps of our faces and using machine vision to recognize patterns. their technology can accurately identify a face—and in under 35 milliseconds, regardless of the amount of lighting or the facial expressions people make. face it, this high-tech tool is growing up fast, forcing people to ask more questions over its potential uses and the ethics surrounding them – get ready for a security whirlwind.