“…success in engineering facial recognition technology that can identify subjects in the light and in the dark would represent a considerable upgrade in biometric intelligence capabilities for the military.”
The US Army has revealed that it has built what is currently the world’s largest public dataset of thermal face images, opening the door to further advancement of facial recognition technology.
As FedScoop reports, the Army revealed the existence of the database in a recent research paper from the Army Research Lab. Dubbed the “Army Research Laboratory Visible-Thermal Face Dataset”, it includes over 500,000 images of 395 subjects.
Initial efforts to train facial recognition algorithms on the dataset have delivered mixed results. Performance was poor when subjects wore glasses, or if their face was positioned away from the camera.
Thermal images tend to have less detail than regular images, making the job of biometric identification much more difficult. But success in engineering facial recognition technology that can identify subjects in the light and in the dark would represent a considerable upgrade in biometric intelligence capabilities for the military.
It could also raise some concerns about privacy and civil rights. Public deployments of facial recognition have generated increasing controversy in recent years, with police use of the technology in particular prompting public blowback and even legislative bans and moratoriums.
With COVID-19 having led to the integration of thermal imaging into a number of facial recognition systems in order to facilitate fever detection, the emergence of military-grade thermal face imaging may set off some alarm bells among privacy advocates.
January 11, 2020 – by Alex Perala