Once the preserve of science fiction, biometric facial recognition has now become a reality.
Despite its association with the controversy of identity cards, it is predicted to become part of everyday life.
A few corporations are already scanning pictures of staff for access control or to tackle swipe card fraud. And six police forces have so far recognised its use in identifying CCTV pictures of suspects – one claims it to be the biggest forensic breakthrough since DNA.
As companies become more security conscious, the process of having our faces scanned is set to become more commonplace. And new technology which can produce this in a more accurate 3D form could accelerate this trend.
A firm which has developed the 3D software, Aurora, claims it is sophisticated enough to distinguish between identical twins.
I underwent the procedure myself and it only took a few seconds. A camera used a near-infrared light to put a virtual mesh on my face 16 times. It merged these into one unique template and calculated all the measurements of my features.
These could theoretically then be instantly checked against a database to control access to a building or allow a cash machine withdrawal.
Existing biometric face tests, which are two-dimensional, are affected by changes in lighting and facial expressions. And critics say they are susceptible to fraud.
The government’s biometric trials for passports and identity cards have reportedly experienced a 10% error rate in face recognition. The Home Office denies this and says that in any case its trials were only testing the procedures and the public response, not the technology.