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05.25.21

Face Authentication vs. Face Recognition: What’s the Difference?

The terms face recognition and face authentication are often used interchangeably. After all, both terms are referring to the same technology, right? Well, not exactly. Although both technologies use biometric software systems to identify individuals, they employ distinct processes and are applied for different purposes.

It is crucial to know how these two biometric identification systems differ so organizations can understand the ethical and legal concerns surrounding facial recognition. In this article, Alcatraz AI will explain the key differences between face authentication vs. recognition, how each technology works, and where they are commonly used.

What is Face Recognition?

The term Face Recognition has come under great scrutiny in the past several years. There have been several companies that have leveraged the technology in ways that many people believe violate their privacy rights. These companies surreptitiously collected biometric data from users that were, in some cases, unaware that the data was being collected. This data has been compiled into large databases that are then shared, or even sold to 3rd party entities for use in such applications as covert surveillance or to send targeted marketing ads. This non-cooperative use of the technology is what many people associate with when they are thinking about or discussing face recognition. Starting with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and followed by GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California and others, legislation has been created to limit the use of non-cooperative face recognition in these types of applications to protect the privacy of citizens.

What is Face Authentication?

In contrast to non-cooperative face recognition, face authentication technology is used to verify the identity of an individual that is actively interacting with the system. Face authentication can be implemented using different techniques.  

If you have an Apple iPhone X or later model, you are familiar with one of these face authentication techniques known as one-to-one matching (aka face verification). This method provides a very simple “Yes or No” answer to the question of “Is this or is this not the right person trying to unlock me?”

Systems such as the Alcatraz AI Rock take advantage of a technique known as one-to-few matching. This method leverages artificial intelligence to verify the identity of the person interacting with the system. All system users are aware that they are using a biometric system and have provided consent prior to enrolling or being authenticated. These systems provide tools that allow companies to administer the biometric profiles in a way that adheres to local legislation and protects the privacy of the enrolled individuals.

Tighten Access Control With Alcatraz AI

Now you know why these two terms should not be used interchangeably! If you need to boost your organization’s physical security and tighten access controls, Alcatraz AI’s touchless face authentication system can help. Contact us now to schedule an in-person or virtual demo to see our AI-powered, autonomous access control solution in action.

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  • Pitfalls of traditional access control technologies
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  • Single or multi-factor authentication
  • Ensuring a Zero Trust environment
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