June 08, 2009
| by Arlen Schweiger
I hate remembering passwords, but soon we’ll be able to just smile and fuhgeddabout ’em. Our faces will be the keys to unlocking our future. As we step in front of doors, computer monitors or home control panels, facial recognition will trigger activities.
“You want your personal settings to be remembered, and a biometric sensor allows devices to know who you are and adjust accordingly,” says Alex Carrausse, business development manager for XID Technologies, a Singapore-based developer of facial detection solutions.
“Say you arrive at your place—you’re John and your wife is Maria. The system will recognize John and automatically have the TV turned on to the right program, and light up the main bedroom and kitchen; when Maria comes home, maybe other lights turn on or dimmers are adjusted to the proper intensity.”
Those scenarios represent the possibilities of facial recognition, but those familiar with home automation (especially biggies like Crestron, AMX, Control4, and Savant) know that attaching preset activities to specific users can be achieved at the touch of a button. XID (www.xidtech.com) is working its way there, having started with security applications like its XS PRO-1000 access control device and FaceLogOn Xpress program.
The XS PRO-1000 kit (roughly $2,100), provides security for entryways and includes a video camera, screen, card reader and hard drive.
All it takes is two to three seconds to recognize who you are and either grant or deny access. It makes recordings, too, so you’ll have a “Wanted” poster to take to the cops if someone tries to break into the system. For secure access to a PC, the $19 FaceLogOn Xpress software runs in conjunction with a computer’s username, so only properly identified people can log in.
Of the three major biometric authentications—the others being fingerprint and iris scanning—facial detection is the latest to the game and the most expensive, but it may carry the most potential for home applications, Carrausse says. It doesn’t involve obtrusive sensors or touch-sensitive scanners that can be compromised, broken or hygienically harmful.
We’re not in Minority Report territory yet, but Carrausse notes that police, forensics, government and airport security fields have an interest in the facial recognition market, which XID says is around $560 million worldwide now.
In homes, condos and hotels, “When you arrive a door will open automatically, the elevator will know what floor you’re going to, or VIP treatment can start without the need for people to ask who you are,” he says. “There are so many things that can be done once you know the identity of a person.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.