You've seen it in the movies for years: Security cameras find a face in a crowd, and — Enhance! — a computer comes up with a name. In real life, facial recognition was too error-prone to work that quickly, especially with live video streams.
But now the Hollywood fantasy is coming true.
Facial recognition accuracy rates have jumped dramatically in the last couple of years, making it feasible to monitor live video. China recently announced real-time facial recognition covering "16 provinces, cities and autonomous regions," and similar systems are being tried in Russia, India and even the United Kingdom.
"I've been in this industry since the mid-2000s, and I've never seen people gravitate toward face recognition like the past two years," says Benji Hutchinson, a vice president with NEC Corporation of America, a major supplier of the systems. "It's night and day."