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Sometimes the crime shows you see on TV are exaggerated and inaccurate, and some of the technologies featured simply have to be fictitious, right? Amazingly, it really has gotten to be that advanced. For a long time fingerprints were the only way to identify a criminal or suspect, and then came along DNA testing, which has been used to free the innocent and convict the guilty over the last few decades, even solving cold cases from prior its very discovery.

The latest and most advanced development is a software or application that uses visual input to identify persons of interest. This facial recognition software has been used extensively in recent years to solve numerous cases, capture criminals, find missing persons, and save lives. It seems a bit like science fiction, but it is accurate and reliable, mostly due to its design and how it works.

In its infancy, this technology used solely specific features, such as eye spacing, birthmarks, or symmetry, all through the use of pattern recognition algorithms. Newer techniques utilize three-dimensional facial recognition based on input from several sensors. This provides an integration of multiple angles for more qualitative and accurate identification. Cameras track the person of interest from each point of view in real time, registering depth, detail, and even facial expressions. These software applications can process visuals from security cameras and even photographs to pinpoint with great accuracy by automatically comparing inputs.

Additionally, improvements such as skin texture analysis and thermal imaging have enhanced these identification measures. Skin analysis enables highly detailed processing down to the freckles and the very pores of the skin’s surface. This has been said to improve accuracy by up to 25%. Thanks to the development of these applications, criminal investigations and security have become inconceivably faster, easier, and more precise.

Aside from apprehending a wanted criminal, there are other ways these technologies can and have been used. For example, public assemblies such as sports events and political rallies can be scanned in search of terrorists, suspicious individuals, or criminals. Recent gaming technology also uses it to make you a real time part of the game you’re playing. And just about every newly produced digital camera nowadays can identify your face, guess what age and gender you are, and even refuse to take the photograph until it sees you smile! You might even be using it right now, as it has become increasingly common to use visual passwords and access controls. Just a few years ago, such technology was unthinkable; what could possibly come next?