George Brostoff Exclusive Interview: With growing chorus for digital transformation, technology has fully dominated the year 2018. One area which witnessed massive interest both from government organizations and private companies is 3D face authentication technology. Companies like Apple and the world’s largest biometric database holder, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) are experimenting with face authentication technology to improve the identification process.
Despite challenges and vague clarity around data privacy and security, 3D face authentication is cementing its position over 2D face authentication technology due to sheer ability of high accuracy. In many ways, 3D face authentication promises to deliver fast and secure personal identification.
But beyond just identification, 3D face authentication can have an amazing innovative usage – something that Amazon is trying. For example, the retail sector can use face authentication as the next logical extension of the Grab-n-Go shopping experience currently being pioneered in Amazon GO stores. Shoppers in any setting could simply select items to purchase, have their identity validated by a 3D face authentication solution, walk out of the store and be billed automatically.
To understand the technology, challenges of privacy and how this could be used by different sector for improving efficiency, TechObserver.in’s Sanjay Singh spoke with George Brostoff, CEO of SensibleVision, which makes facial-recognition software. Brostoff has seven US patents and has developed technology used by Dell and other major companies.
He said that questions always arise around where a user’s data is stored and what the privacy implications are, based on how easily the data can be hacked and sold or repurposed.
“Since we are in the early days of face authentication, there are of course privacy and regulatory issues that need to be addressed. The exciting news is that India’s government has overall been very supportive of the use of biometrics for accurate identification, including face authentication,” said Brostoff.
How do you look at the 3D face authentication market in India?
George Brostoff: One of the most important areas where 3D face authentication will deliver value in India is by expanding its use as part of the Aadhaar initiative and as well as in private sector face recognition applications. Our 3D face authentication has the potential to dramatically improve the overall accuracy of the identification process across a variety of settings even when used with a 2D face enrollment such as the one Aadhaar uses. This certainly has the potential to expedite distribution of government services – everything from educational scholarships and LPG cylinder subscriptions to subsidized meal programs and the targeted Public Distribution System (PDS).
There are also tremendous opportunities to use SensibleVision’s 3D face authentication solutions in the private sector in situations where fast and accurate identification is required. With both 3D recognition and 3D enrollments, verticals including financial services, retail, healthcare and travel and transportation are all poised to benefit from the improved accuracy we can deliver, even in challenging lighting conditions and with people of any skin complexion.
There are some privacy as well as regulatory concerns on the use of 3D face authentication. How can an organisation like yours help in addressing that?
George Brostoff: Questions always arise around where a user’s data is stored and what the privacy implications are, based on how easily the data can be hacked and sold or repurposed. Since we are in the early days of face authentication, there are of course privacy and regulatory issues that need to be addressed. The exciting news is that India’s government has overall been very supportive of the use of biometrics for accurate identification, including face authentication.
SensibleVision’s solution provides transparent, accurate and convenient 3D face authentication while also providing flexibility to fully protect the users’ privacy. Because of our ability to deliver virtually spoof-proof accurate authentication, users feel safe when accessing their data using our solution. In addition, there are options for the facial profile data to be stored locally on the device. The result is that both policymakers and users feel comfortable their privacy is being protected.
Where do you see authentication technology going in 2019?
George Brostoff: There are many exciting developments that will expand the application of authentication technology in the year ahead. 3D cameras continue to get smaller and even lower in cost. AI-enabled software and chipsets will make it easier for more and more devices to provide 3D face authentication.
Not only are device makers including this capability in phones and tablets, but we are also seeing office buildings, law enforcement, border control, transportation hubs, event organizers and medical facilities all exploring the power of 3D face authentication to deliver rapid and accurate identification across a variety of use cases.
What kind of verticals use 3D face authentication and what benefits it can offer to them?
George Brostoff: As face authentication becomes more widely available, it is becoming a key part of any overall security strategy – regardless of industry or vertical. However, many people are finding that traditional 2D face recognition fails when high accuracy is needed or if the lighting is not perfect. There is where our 3D face authentication solutions really shine.
3D face authentication can help facilitate financial services-related activities by providing fast and secure personal identification when banking online or at an ATM.
The retail sector can use face authentication as the next logical extension of the Grab-n-Go shopping experience being pioneered in Amazon GO stores. Shoppers in any setting could simply select items to purchase, have their identity validated by a 3D face authentication solution, walk out of the store and be billed automatically.
Other applications might include issuing or renewing drivers’ licenses, setting up accounts for mobile phones, or even boarding flights and purchasing event tickets.
In all of these settings, 3D face authentication makes the user experience easier, simpler, more convenient and more secure. Most importantly, our 3D solutions will likely work where other face recognition fails.
There have been reports about the hacking of even face recognition technology. How can an organisation like yours help in addressing that challenge for businesses?
George Brostoff: While facial recognition has been around for over two decades, it has not delivered on the promise of providing a robust and accurate solution for biometrics-based identification in many real-world situations.
For starters, these solutions have mostly used 2D cameras which do not capture nearly enough information to be consistently accurate. They can easily be fooled with pictures and masks, they do not handle diverse lighting environments well and have trouble resolving the details in people with very light or dark skin.
Another factor has been the limited size of facial profile databases. Many companies went to market with very limited data sets – mostly middle-aged white males – which made the accuracy of their solutions very inconsistent, to say the least.
SensibleVision has addressed all of these challenges. Using true 3D recognition based on facial profiles from all over the world, we can accurately recognize people of all ages, genders and races. We leverage today’s tiny and accurate 3D cameras to capture 10K-40K depth points for each facial scan – enough data to deliver very accurate and consistent results even when people don’t directly face the camera or are moving quickly past it.
And we have developed true AI-based 3D face recognition capabilities that analyze the actual contours of the face to collect, manage and rationalize scans. The result is virtually spoof proof and consistently accurate authentication.
What are the key technology trends that you see dominating 2019 from an authentication technology perspective?
George Brostoff: AI and machine learning software and hardware are getting more powerful and capable of being delivered at the edge of the network. This trend will dramatically transform authentication strategies for every organisation.
I also think we will see the deployment of 3D face authentication solutions in more and more non-traditional settings. It might certainly be made available for accessing automobiles and monitoring drivers. More and more airports will use 3D biometric authentication in lieu of boarding passes. Next year, we might see this kind of capability deployed on a watch!
SensibleVision is working with partners in India as well as with government agencies to explore innovative ways in which 3D face authentication can provide fast, convenient and secure identification across a range of settings.