Americans face up to an explosion of recognition technology

A new report claims more than 131 million Americans use facial recognition daily, with nearly half using it to access three applications or more each day

A new report has unveiled high levels of consumer adoption of facial recognition, particularly among Gen Z and millennials, for multiple mobile applications and consumer venues, including airports, banks and medical offices. 

FaceMe | Face of the Future, published by AI facial recognition technology provider CyberLink, looks at how consumers use this technology and presents several discoveries, including:

  • Roughly 176 million Americans use facial recognition, 132 million of them use their face on at least one application per day, with 75 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds having adopted the technology and 57 per cent of this age group using it daily.
  • Of the people who use facial recognition, unlocking their phone, laptop, or other personal computer is the most common use at 68 per cent, followed by 51 per cent using it to log in to an app on a phone (i.e., healthcare portal or ticketing app)
  • Beyond mobile app use, people are most open to facial recognition technology for improved safety at airports (55 per cent), banks (54 per cent), and medical offices (53 per cent)

“There’s this perception that people are not ready for facial recognition technology, yet, almost all of us are using it every day in one way or another,” says Dr Jau Huang, Chairman and CEO of CyberLink. “New use cases for AI-based computer vision and facial recognition are constantly emerging. The explosion of mobile apps, the password nightmare they generated, and the face login solution that followed drove initial adoption in the mass market. Now, many see AI-based automation as a key solution to the current labour crisis. Traditional and online businesses are applying facial recognition to a wide set of activities, ranging from security and access control to self-service, statistics, and the many facets of customer experience. Be ready, there is a lot of facial recognition coming ahead!”

The study, carried out online with the third-party research firm YouGov, uncovered not only that consumers are ready for facial recognition use in new settings but also that they expect certain guarantees (such as the choice to opt out) to support its use. 

The data reveals that those Americans willing to opt-in to facial recognition technology in any setting are most open to facial recognition to improve safety at Airports (55 per cent), banks (54 per cent) and medical offices (53 per cent). Notably, respondents prioritised these same settings regarding facial recognition to improve convenience and overall enhanced experience. 

The office (39 per cent), hotels (30 per cent), sports stadiums (29 per cent), public transportation (28 per cent), retail and grocery stores (26 per cent) and restaurants/bars (23 per cent) were all also selected by more than 1 in 5 of these consumers as settings they’d be comfortable opting-in to using facial recognition technology.

Shopping, eating and travelling most popular for face recognition

The highest percentage of those open to using facial recognition technology said they would be open to facial recognition while shopping at a store, eating at a restaurant or travelling if it better protected their data, personal information, and assets (54 per cent). A large portion said they would consider it for improved safety at their home and workplace (42 per cent). 

Convenience was also important, with 45 per cent of those open to using facial recognition in these settings saying they would do so if it reduced time spent waiting in line and 43 per cent saying the same if it allowed them to get what they needed faster and more conveniently. 

Ensuring proper mask-wearing (23 per cent), eliminating human contact (20 per cent), and getting a VIP experience (20 per cent) were all of lesser but not insignificant importance.

According to the report, facial recognition adoption can vary depending on the demographic. A total of 57 per cent of 18–34-year-old people use some sort of facial recognition at least once a day compared to 40 per cent of people aged 35-54 and 24 per cent of people ages 55 and older. 

Younger demographics are also more particular than other groups about knowing their face won’t be saved or sold (43 per cent; 4-8 points higher than other groups) and being provided with clearly explained signage and terms of conditions (37 per cent; 4-8 points higher than other groups).

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