Face Detection & Recognition Provide New Analytics Frontier

Face analytics can help identify your age, screen out inappropriate content in social networks, identify friends’ Facebook photos, and even let employees check in and out without a time clock.

At video chat network Rounds.com, for example, face detection analytics comes into play in a number of ways, said Natasha Shine-Zirkel, marketing director for the community in a recent phone interview. In one use, Rounds.com, a “hangout” platform allowing Facebook members to video chat with friends, play games, or listen to music together, introduces new friends using an algorithm to match people by profile data and face detection analytics to match them by age.

Rounds.com also uses face detection analytics to flag members accessing age-inappropriate parts of the site or those showing inappropriate images in the video chat section, Shine-Zirkel said.

In another example, dating community FindYourFaceMate.com uses the same detection analytics to establish matches based on similarity of appearance -- its unique premise, said Gil Hirsch, CEO and co-founder of Face.com, the company providing face analytics for this company as well as Rounds.com.

Face.com provides free APIs that developers can use to create a variety of applications for face detection and recognition software. It offers enhanced services for a fee, said Hirsch in a recent Skype interview.

In the case of sites like Rounds.com and FindYourFaceMate.com, the Face.com detection software looks at face attributes in photos but does not deal with identity, Hirsch said. For example, the face detection software identifies characteristics like profile, orientation, points of interest (eyes, nose, etc.), gender, mood, age, and whether the face might be smiling, wearing glasses, etc.

By contrast, face recognition analyzes images using either Facebook connections or independent databases to identify users.

With the simplest application, you can detect when a photo of you or one of your connections is posted somewhere within your Facebook network. Another app, Celebrityfindr, locates photos of celebrities on Twitter using Google photos for recognition purposes.

Some companies are putting facial recognition to practical use, too. For example, employees at one construction site check in and check out at a construction site without having to punch a time clock, Hirsch said. The app requires a database of employee names matched with photos.

Face.com addresses privacy issues with terms of use that forbid sharing of any personal information or photos without opt-in by those identified.

How might your organization put face detection or recognition software to use? Leave your comments below.

Shawn Hessinger, Community Editor

Shawn Hessinger is a community manager, blogger, social media and tech enthusiast, journalist, and entrepreneur based in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He serves as community manager and blogger for BizSugar.com, a business news and information Website, and contributes regularly to the online business news source, Small Business Trends. He is the founder of PostRanger.com, an online content and media community, and has provided blogging and social media services and consulting for companies all over the world. He researches and writes on a variety of business, Internet-related, and other tech topics including business intelligence and analytics. He is also keenly interested in computer-aided data management as it relates to his various online ventures. A newspaper journalist with more than 11 years experience as a reporter and then managing editor, Shawn began blogging in 2006 and now provides a variety of consulting and outsourcing services in Search Engine Optimization, Web development, and online marketing to companies large and small. He is a strong advocate for the use of BI and related computer data management in business decision making, whether using software as a service (SaaS), cloud, or other applications, and in the opportunity these technologies provide to transform small startups and larger established businesses alike.

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Re: So Many Ways To Use
  • 4/11/2012 12:14:18 PM

Hi ckelly1,

I recall hearing about this particular 60 minutes story but didn't actually see it. In my case, I can often remember a face from years ago when I meet or see a person again, but it often takes some time to remember the context of where or in what circumstance I've seen them before. With human beings, it also seems that some people are more recognizable than others, but this can sometimes involve other factors like a memorable conversation you had with the person the last time you saw them or a unique characteristic, like red hair or a distinct type of clothing the person often wears.

Re: Something for retailers
  • 4/11/2012 11:14:33 AM
1 saves

'I think this method should work fine for all products as people having similar facial features may have similar buying habits.

Waqas, am not sure about it. But i know the purchasing tendency may differ from person to person, i don't feels about such corelations

Re: Something for retailers
  • 4/11/2012 9:56:28 AM

@ Daniel

I think this method should work fine for all products as people having similar facial features may have similar buying habits. Facial characteristics may be linked to identify ones' cultural background, his/her mood and other features and this can be further linked to ones' expected purchases for all kinds of products, whether cosmetics, electronics, food items. A happy customer may be expected to buy ice creams while a customer in a bad mood might be expected to buy medicine :)

Isnt it Daniel ?

Re: So Many Ways To Use
  • 4/11/2012 6:08:35 AM

Fascinating Stuff and really complex.  Turns out that some people are face recognition blind.  60 minutes did a story on it.  Face Recognition is a function of the brain that companies like face.com must have studied. Other people have extreme face recognition. they can remember the check-out lady from 10 years ago.



Re: Something for retailers
  • 4/11/2012 6:08:17 AM
1 saves

"I think marketing people will find it really beneficial as they might find a common pattern among customers' faces that buy particular products"

Waqas, I think it may be true for selling cosmetic products but this method may not be feasible for other products.

Face detection method for employees
  • 4/11/2012 6:06:45 AM
1 saves

"Face analytics can help identify your age, screen out inappropriate content in social networks, identify friends' Facebook photos, and even let employees check in and out without a time clock"

Shawn, that's the one reason most of the peoples replacing their snap by different avatars. This can help them to easily hide their identity. I don't know whether any company is following face reorganization method for employees. In my company we are following biometric standards.

Re: Something for retailers
  • 4/10/2012 11:36:35 PM

Hi WaqasAltaf,

Well, that's certainly an interesting theory and probably no stranger than the notion that successful relationships result by matching people with similar appearances. It's one of many, many factors that I'm sure could be tracked and studied using these or similar tools.

Re: The Real Sci-Fi
  • 4/10/2012 11:09:35 PM


While the Face.com TOS is pretty strict on privacy issues, especially where face detection software is concerned, I've mentioned before in this stream the technology being used here is not all that unknown in the marketplace and certainly others have been working along similar lines. So, yes, I'd say, the concern that  some companies might use (or misuse?) this technology in a way that might adversely affect privacy is at least as valid as the concern about how large social networks and search engines may be managing the user data they collect.

Re: So Many Ways To Use
  • 4/10/2012 10:59:03 PM


Ah, yes, I see. Actually this software is not all that different from other similar developments in the field. Take face recognition software, for example. Similar software is available as part of other packages, probably with different Terms of Use, so Face.com is hardly the only service of its kind. I would imagine similar applications could be developed independent of the Face.com API and the limits placed on developers by the current TOS for just about any purpose imaginable.

Re: So Many Ways To Use
  • 4/10/2012 7:29:08 PM

There is such a world of information that can be gathered by facial recognition. 

A note of interest, another way to identify people are by their ears.  Ears are just as unique as fingerprings.  "Through a new shape-finding algorithm called "image ray transform," which boasts 99.6 percent accuracy, according to a study presented at the IEEE Fourth International Conference on Biometrics Sept. 29, the outer ear may prove to be one of the most accurate and least intrusive ways to identify people." 

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/ears-make-unique-ids-fingerprints/story?id=12154847#.T4TCZVHy8UI

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