Facial recognition technology has improved vastly over the last decade with advances in artificial intelligence. At the same time, the technology has also come under fire for its role in privacy violations.
According to Statista, the facial recognition market was estimated at USD 3.2 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow, reading USD 7 billionby 2024. In its most upfront application, facial recognition has the potential to make it easier for patients to sign in at the doctor or hospital without waiting in line or juggling forms. But there are a number of other ways that the technology can be used in healthcare.
To aid COVID-19 response efforts, facial recognition technology and scanning systems are being developed and introduced by some hospitals. Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital recently implemented an artificial intelligence-powered system that uses thermal-scanning face cameras for fever, sweating and discoloration.
New York City-based Clearview AI is reportedly in talks with government agencies to use its facial recognition tech to help trace COVID-19 patients and their contacts.
A group at Seoul National University in South Korea has developed a facial recognition app to minimize hospital mistakes in patient identification. A similar system called OpenFace has been embedded in the national electronic health record system in Western Kenya. The system can accurately identify patients in under-developed countries where patient misidentification is very common.
Another facial recognition app, Face2Gene, allows clinicians to upload a smartphone image of a patient. The app maps the face with 130 landmarks and uses machine learning techniques to match facial characteristics to rare genetic disorders. It then offers a list of possible diseases and probabilities to the clinician.
Since 2015, Apple has launched two open-source frameworks — ResearchKit and CareKit — to help clinical trials recruit patients and monitor their health remotely. Researchers at Duke University, for example, developed an Autism & Beyond app that uses the iPhone’s front camera and facial recognition algorithms to screen children for autism.
Also, a Google patent was published with an ambitious vision for analyzing cardiovascular function from a person’s skin color or skin displacement. A similar patent was obtained by Amazon. It combines recognition of facial features with heart rate analysis.
We believe that with ethical and practical considerations taken into account, Facial Recognition Technology offers a potentially powerful tool to improve patient experiences and enable ways for potentially saving lives.