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News 6 investigates facial recognition

ORLANDO, Fla. – CBS television shows "Person of Interest" and "Criminal Minds" both use facial recognition to identify people and solve crimes.  Facial recognition is very helpful to law enforcement, but it’s being used more and more with everyday life. 

One of the best software computer vision companies in the country ranked higher than Google and Microsoft is based right here in Central Florida. 

News 6’s Eryka Washington visited the company called Sighthound and finds out where you will soon see facial recognition popping up.

In fact, many people may not even realize that if you have a smart TV that has a built in camera, that camera has facial recognition. 

The purpose is to provide "gesture control" so you can change channel for the TV and it also can tell what your favorite shows are. 

It’s this type of facial recognition technology that being created right in our backyard at a company called Sighthound.

"We’ll first let the computer know who you are," explained Enrique Ortiz.,PhD.

A computer engineer, Ortiz is developing a program that links facial recognition with your car.

Here's how it works: You get in and your car identifies you from your face, it sets your air conditioning and favorite radio stations, adjusts your seats and mirrors, and even calibrates your airbag based on your height.

"We had one of the car companies come along and say we're interested in face recognition what can you do for us," said Ortiz.

This is just one of several programs PhD engineers at Sighthound have developed.

"What we're doing is enabling computers to see," explains Sighthound CEO Stephen Neish.

That same facial recognition technology is used in camera's that can detect whether someone is in a scene rather than something.

"It will find the security cameras linked to your home network and examine the feed from those cameras and tell you if somebody is somewhere they shouldn't be," said Neish.

Facial recognition is becoming more and more popular.

Online retailer Amazon is also looking at facial recognition as a way customers can pay.  Shoppers will take a picture of themselves or a selfie to authenticate payments.

Malls are also cashing in on facial recognition.  Many mall directories have cameras inside taking your photo to determine the shoppers age, race and gender in return you'll see ads for products catering to your demographic.

It's even being used to keep the nightlife atmosphere safe.


Bars in Gainesville use facial recognition in their cameras and an app to determine gender and age, making sure you are 21 before buying a drink.

Also, facial recognition is up and running for international travelers arriving at OIA using automated passport control kiosks. 

The device takes a snap shot of each passenger's face and compares the image with biometric data found in newer passports.

Law enforcement agencies like Daytona Beach police have been using facial recognition to catch criminals.  A program matches the face of a criminal captured from surveillance video to a potential suspect.

It sifts through nearly 30 million photos from Florida mug shots to driver's license pictures and offers up potential matches.

UCF PhD graduate Afshin Dehghan has been working on a similar program called "kinship recognition." The goal to help find missing children or help Homeland Security figure out who is related to whom. 

"If you’re trying to match father and daughter, the area around the eyes is the most important," explains Dehghan.

It’s still in its early stages so has a long way to go but it’s in the works.

Daytona Beach police credit facial recognition in helping them identify and solve a dozens of cases.

As for facial recognition in cars and not having to move your seat and mirrors, you should see that by 2020.