Face recognition and facial tracking technologies since long ago have left the universe of spy movies and science fiction and are widely used in many industries for various purposes – security, law enforcement, healthcare, entertainment, etc.
Facial recognition features allow us to unlock our smartphones, gain or deny access to restricted areas, help the police to identify the faces of troublemakers.
However, recently facial recognition has joined forces with another cutting-edge technology – augmented reality – to create an entirely different family of mobile applications that can have both an entertaining and commercial value.
Such technology giants as Apple and Samsung have been doing massive research and development in the augmented reality sector (check the Apple ARKit with enhanced face-tracking options, and Samsung Bixby Vision recognizing various objects through the smartphone camera).
However, the first AR-based face recognition application was rolled out by Blippar, an AR startup focused on computer vision and AR development.
Face recognition – Blippar App Innovation
So, what’s so revolutionary in the new Blippar solution?
Let’s look closer at what they have to offer and try to figure out what benefits it can give.
Public Figures Face Recognition
In 2016, Blippar released its Public Figures Facial Recognition feature allowing to recognize an actor, politician, sportsperson or another public figure by scanning their face and matching it with the database of more than 300,000 public persons.
At first glance, it sounds like a merely entertaining feature for those “I have definitely seen somewhere” moments. You point your smartphone camera at an actress’s face on your TV screen or a photo in a magazine – and there you go, the application says that it’s Emma Myles.
At the same time, Blippar suggests some cases where their new solution can bring certain commercial benefit.
Image tagging in social networks
By embedding Blippar’s Public Figure API into a social network, the provider can enable quick tagging of any images where public figures are present.
It can improve the overall customer experience and satisfaction by giving each user a complete picture of a post or video.
Face recognition in advertising
Enhancing an application with the face recognition algorithm, you can increase the revenue from advertising by running ads featuring or related to public persons mentioned in the content.
The app recognizes the face of a public figure and pops up the corresponding ad – bingo; you are getting an increased number of views.
Individual Face Recognition
However, Blippar decided not to limit its innovation to public figures only, and in 2017 followed with the beta version of its Halos application in which face recognition algorithm and augmented reality are put to work to create a genuinely unprecedented social experience.
A new kind of social network
In a nutshell, your face becomes your social profile. Scan your face and add the personal information you like – a Tweet, a video, a song you particularly like.
Anyone with the Halos app installed on their smartphone can scan your face in the crowd (given you also have the application installed) and will instantly see the info bubbles around you. It looks like something with endless social possibilities.
Although Halos in its current form seems to be a fun thing only, Blippar sees a much broader scope of application for this technology.
Imagine a significant corporate event with colleagues from different offices getting together. You want to use this occasion to personally meet a colleague with whom you have been exchanging emails while working on the same project, but how can you find her among two hundred people? Especially when she is wearing a cocktail dress and has put her hair up?
It is where your Halos-like app can help you.
If your company’s social application has the embedded Facial Recognition API, the events can become much easier and smarter. Just aim your smartphone camera at a group of people to see their names.
Plans for the future
Blippar is not going to stop after releasing its Halos application. They have quite an ambitious roadmap – developing a kind of a “visual browser”, an application recognizing any object to which the smartphone camera is aimed – a car, a piece of clothing, a tourist site.
Sounds rather intriguing and audacious, so let’s stay tuned to Blippar’s news.
Face tracking and augmented reality
While Blippar is polishing up its Facial Recognition application, other players in the same field are not idle either.
Many companies are experimenting in the sector of augmented reality and face tracking, and there is already a whole range of AR software products built on the basis of these technologies.
Face tracking means that the application can, on the one hand, detect that there is actually a face in the image and, on the other hand, follow the face movements.
When face verification and tracking joins augmented reality, fascinating AR applications appear.
Due to their nature, applications using face tracking are mostly found in the sector of virtual “try-ons” – they will help you choose makeup or eyeglasses, for example.
Besides, they create an exciting add-on to social and instant messaging platforms.
Let’s look at some of them.
Probably, everyone has heard of Snapchat, an image and multimedia messaging application, and many have been using it quite regularly.
To add more fun to video chatting, Snaphat implemented the Lenses feature putting various special effects over your face.
This cute feature is based on really complex programming; because to make the special effect move and change shape together with the face mimics, the application has to detect the face and track its movements.
For each face, it identifies the feature points building a grid over them. These points are then monitored to create the special effect and make it move.
Image Metrics – the augmented blending with the real
Image Metrics specializes in 3D animation and virtual try-on applications.
Their solutions are a fascinating mix of augmented reality, face detection technology and face tracking taking the AR to a new level.
Image Metrics uses the same technology as Snapchat – detecting the face by feature points and tracking its movements. The result is quite impressive.
Makeup Genius – virtual try-on application for L’Oreal
The name speaks for itself – the idea is indeed in the genius league. Look in your smartphone as if in a mirror, try on all sorts of L’Oreal makeup and then just have fun with it – make faces, turn your head this or that way, add and remove makeup products to create new glamorous looks. The virtual makeup will move with you, so you will almost “feel” it while in reality, your face will remain clear.
Besides virtual makeup, Image Metrics are also working on a solution allowing to try on eyeglasses, however, currently, it exists only in the form of a demo.
The concept is the same – you put on a virtual pair of glasses and then admire them on your smartphone screen turning your head from side to side – just like you do in a store standing in front of a real mirror.
Mojomasks – paint your face to stand out in social networks
Another product by Image Metrics is designed to add fun to social networks. Just download the AR application and choose the mask you are going to wear.
You will want to touch your face to check whether you are really wearing the mask because you will not be able to tell the augmented reality from the “real” one.
There is a special version of the augmented reality application painting your face in the colors of your favorite sports team – Die Hard Fan by Nissan.
Image Metrics made it in cooperation with Nissan, a known supporter of college sports. Paint your face and cheer for your team – and let the world know about it.
ModiFace – AR Mirrors
ModiFace, another rising startup in the AR industry, is also working on virtual try-on products for the beauty industry.
However, they went a bit further and, together with MAC Cosmetics, created an in-store AR mirror. Now you do not even need an augmented reality application to try MAC products – just come up to a mirror in a store and admire the different looks created with MAC Cosmetics.
The experience is truly outstanding – a complete sensation of looking at your face in the mirror and watching different makeup appearing on it as if b a miracle.
Facial recognition and face tracking technologies have been around for quite some time. However, having integrated with augmented reality, they are expanding their horizons.
The new technology is just taking its first tentative steps, but, by all appearances, we will soon live in a world where your face will be your passport, your page in a social network, your resume, and your medical record.
Smile for the camera!
If you have thoughts about making your own AR application, consider using our services. Our augmented reality company can help you develop a unique and engaging product.
Feel free to contact us for a detailed consultation or project estimation.