University of WA develops 'more accurate' 3D facial recognition model

A team from the UWA Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering has developed a new 3D facial recognition system that it said could provide more accurate results and improved security measures.

University of Western Australia researchers have designed a new system for large-scale 3D facial recognition that addresses the shortcomings of 2D facial recognition.

The team from the university's UWA Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering created the "FR3DNet" model, which has analysed 3.1 million 3D scans of more than 100,000 people.

According to findings published in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, the team trained FR3DNet, which is currently available for research purposes, to learn the identities of a dataset of "known" persons and match a face to one of those identities.

Unlike 2D facial recognition of photographs commonly used in surveillance, 3D models can address changes in facial texture, expression, and poses, the research said.

"Our research shows that recognition performance on 3D scans is better and more robust," said the model's creator, Dr Syed Zulqarnain Gilani. "Your 3D scan could be in any pose, wearing glasses or a face mask, and laughing or just smiling and the deep model can recognise you in an instant."

The model could be used by an organisation or government agency for more accurate facial recognition and improved security measures, the university said, potentially removing the need for passwords.

3D data requires physical collection from real subjects, making it more difficult to gather than 2D data, which can be obtained through images on the internet, the university said. But according to Gilani, cheaper off-the-shelf 3D cameras means widespread 3D facial recognition is closer to reality, meaning more accurate image data.

Facial recognition tech is increasingly being implemented in systems both nationally and globally. Last week, Qantas announced a facial recognition trial for international passengers at Sydney Airport for flight check-in and bag drop, access to the lounge, and boarding the plane.

Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing, allowing passengers to use their face as their access identification.

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who is responsible for developing a facial recognition system to link up identity matching systems between government agencies in Australia, envisages a future where a passenger's face is sufficient ID to get them past border control and out of the airport.

"For the numbers of people coming through our airports, I want them to walk seamlessly down -- off the A380 -- and, in time, and we're not far off this, with facial recognition on the move, people's passports will stay in their pocket," Dutton said back in February.

Earlier this year, 820 new cameras equipped with facial recognition technology were used at the fifth Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), allowing security personnel to monitor patrons as they approached the ground.

A trial of the system in 2017 allowed police and security to intercept six banned spectators as they tried to enter the SCG.

In the UK, police confirmed last week that there were no arrests resulting from a facial recognition pilot in East London, according to The Independent. The trial, which reportedly sparked privacy and human rights concerns, had only one potential match to a criminal suspect in around two hours, which turned out to be false.

The Independent said that the trial is one of several planned across London this year, as a method of identifying wanted violent criminals.

Last year, a facial recognition system built by NEC and used by South Wales Police was trialed for the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff, which produced 173 "True Positive Alerts", and 2,297 false positives -- representing a successful positive for just 7 percent of identifications.

South Wales Police said the high number of false positives at the Cardiff final was due to poor quality images supplied by UEFA, Interpol, and other agencies.

In Singapore, OCBC Bank has been using NEC's facial recognition system to identify certain banking customers in real time as they approach the branch lounge; while in Brazil, Accor Hotels last month started a facial recognition trial as a way to improve customer service delivery.

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