20 Facial Recognition Statistics to Scan Through in 2023
Updated · May 20, 2023
Four years ago, Apple introduced Face ID with the iPhone X. Although the tech giant didn’t come up with the technology by itself, the iPhone’s new feature made headlines as a revolutionary innovation.
This is probably the most blatant use of facial recognition (FR)—though, for many, it is also the only one they’re aware of.
That said, there’s more to this tech than meets the eye. Just read through our selection of facial recognition statistics, and you’ll see.
The facial recognition market is expanding rapidly. Hotels, shopping centers, and metro stations, for example, already deploy this type of tech.
The fact that people don’t realize it doesn’t mean that their faces aren’t scanned every time they set foot inside an airport.
Are you creeped out yet?
We’ve hardly begun.
Fascinating Facial Recognition Stats
- 72% of hotels are likely to invest in face-scanning technology by 2025.
- The facial recognition industry generated $3.8 billion in revenue in 2020 alone.
- FR systems can achieve up to 99.97% accuracy.
- Face-scanning stats indicate identification errors are 35 times more likely to happen to a black female compared to a white male.
- 80% of the world’s governments use FRT in some way.
- Facebook’s DeepFace software can recognize human faces with an accuracy rate of 97.25%.
- Only two countries in the world have banned FRT: Belgium and Luxembourg.
Some Basic Facial Recognition Stats for 2022
Like all technology, FR evolves quickly. Perhaps too quickly.
Either way, there’s something new every day, but don’t worry—we at Hosting Tribunal prepared a few key facial recognition statistics to get you up to speed.
1. A facial recognition system can achieve up to 99.97% accuracy…
However, this is only possible in ideal conditions.
“Ideal” here can mean a lot of things but in this case, passport photos and mugshots are good enough—lighting is good and uniform, the subject is staring at the camera, etc.
After all, the whole point of those pictures is to be a clear representation of a person’s face. Even if (or precisely because) you’ll rarely get a photo like that on a regular day.
Ever tried taking a candid shot of a friend?
2. …but the accuracy rate usually stays at around 90%.
Facial recognition stats show that under the aforementioned ideal conditions, the error rate tends to stay at or under 0.1%. In other words, it’s nearly perfect.
In real-life situations, though, this changes dramatically, with the accuracy of FR algorithms dropping a hundredfold. That is, there’s a 10% error rate.
What causes this?
Subjects not looking at the camera is one of the main reasons. Ever wondered why your iPhone needs your eyes to be open for Face ID to work? This is why.
Aging, makeup, lighting, and other factors can also hinder the software’s capabilities.
3. The probability of someone unlocking your phone through Face ID is one in a million.
Facial recognition statistics show that face identification is very secure—up to 20 times more than fingerprint-based identification, at least where smartphones are concerned.
According to Apple itself, there's a one in a million chance of a random person unlocking your device, which doesn’t sound too bad.
Given the Earth’s population, though, that amounts to 8,000 individuals who could unlock it!
4. 72% of hotels are likely to invest in facial recognition technology by 2025.
Perhaps it’s not the first industry you thought of when you opened this article, but it’s not rare for hotels to use facial recognition.
For instance, in China, you can check in at the Marriott by letting a machine scan your face.
Other common uses for the tech include substituting room keys, paying contactlessly, and monitoring hotel guests to ensure a secure environment.
5. The facial recognition market generated $3.8 billion in revenue in 2020 alone.
With defense sectors and major businesses alike investing more and more in FRT, this is hardly surprising—much to the dismay of privacy advocates.
What’s more, experts believe the facial recognition market size will reach $8.5 billion in 2025, which would be more than double its current worth.
Of Facial Recognition Companies and Lawsuits
Many big tech companies have at least tried their hand at face recognition. And quite a few actively use it for a variety of purposes, such as facial verification or interactive face filters.
The truth is that, ever since the rise of social media, peddling people’s personal information has grown into a massive industry—the mere existence of people search sites attests to that.
The thing is that facial recognition data is now a part of the business, too.
6. You can ‘smile to pay’ at KFC in China.
Many of us are accustomed to a mostly cashless life, paying with cards or even our phones. Yet Alibaba seems to be another step or two ahead.
Its newly introduced tech allows conveniently placed 3D cameras to scan customers’ faces and automatically deduct the necessary amount from their Alipay wallets.
You don’t even need to bring your phone with you anymore to have some tasty chicken, though you do need to have an account in Alipay and have facial identification enabled.
7. Facebook’s DeepFace software can recognize human faces with a 97.25% accuracy rate.
Facebook initially fed the AI facial recognition software more than four million photos of around 4,000 people.
To test the tech’s level of reliability, the company had the program repeatedly determine whether two photographs were of the same person. Needless to say, the experiment was a success.
In a similar experiment, humans scored an average of 97.53%, which means the software was as reliable as the good old human eye.
8. Facial recognition on Facebook came to an end in December 2021.
(Source: The New York Times)
The most likely explanation is that since the program’s inception a decade ago, privacy regulations throughout the world have become much more rigid—something that has cost Mark Zuckerberg billions of dollars in fines alone.
Or maybe the software developers finally saw I, Robot and realized they were going overboard. Or perhaps they read 1984.
Either way, this is a win for privacy advocates.
9. After misusing facial recognition tech, TikTok agreed to a $92 million settlement.
(Source: The University of Melbourne)
The social network was accused of, and sued for, collecting and wrongfully using data related to users’ age, gender, and ethnicity for ad targeting purposes. This isn’t the first time something like this happens, and it probably won’t be the last either.
TikTok denied the accusations but agreed to pay the $92 million sum, even if the company has seemingly no intention to give up on FR.
10. Snapchat uses facial-recognition-like technology for its advanced filters.
Snap Inc. purchased Looksery, a Ukrainian startup, for $150 million in 2015, and integrated its technology into the Lenses feature.
The algorithm engages in a complex sequence of facial scanning and mapping, which enables end-users to modify their face in a variety of ways.
However, we can’t know for sure if all that facial information also serves other more nefarious purposes.
11. Facial recognition can enhance marketing strategies.
Companies such as Taco Bell and Gatorade are no strangers to releasing free filters for Snapchat users to enjoy. In return, they get data on how many people used the filter and how they interacted with it.
It gets scarier, though.
Expedia uses FRT to monitor users’ facial expressions while they’re browsing its website. The company will offer them discount packages for whatever destination/activity caused the person to look the happiest.
Does this even count as deciding for ourselves anymore?
Facial Recognition by Country: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The coronavirus pandemic gave many countries the perfect excuse to implement FRT-based surveillance. They use it to help prevent the spread of the virus—or so they say.
Here is the latest and spiciest news on the topic.
12. Clearview AI is on the verge of obtaining a new patent.
Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology is so good that the FBI makes regular use of it. And no wonder—Clearview AI has a database of 10 billion photos.
This new patent is related to a feature that, put simply, forages the internet for face shots of a person and matches them to the existing database.
13. FRT is already common in US airports.
(Source: USA Today)
Facial recognition in airports is big in the US—at least 18 airports throughout the country use it. What’s more, with the exception of Southwest, all major US-based airlines either already use the tech or are making preparations towards that goal.
Now you know which airlines to avoid if privacy is a concern for you.
14. In the USA, facial recognition tech has an 83% rate of approval.
Keeping dangerous people away from school grounds and finding missing persons are some of the arguments supporters make.
According to recent polls, only 13% of the population says FRT should be banned altogether.
15. 40% of countries are using FRT to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Chief among them is South Korea. From the beginning of the pandemic, privacy advocates decried the country’s aggressive tracking system, which collects credit card information and smartphone geolocation data to control the movement of infected persons.
In 2022, South Korea will use facial recognition to track people despite the international backlash. The Korean government says that its actions are lawful since they aim exclusively at preventing the spread of the virus.
We’ll need to wait and see if the technology remains in use post-COVID.
16. Belgium and Luxembourg banned FRT.
(Source: The Brussels Times)
And they’re the only two countries in the world to have done so. Although Belgian law enforcement did use facial recognition recently—and illegally at that.
In September 2021, the police force denied the allegations. A month later, the Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden admitted they had used the tech between 100 and 500 times, and only for a limited time.
17. China is using facial recognition in the fight against pajamas.
You read that right. In the city of Suzhou, local authorities used FRT to identify and publicly shame fifteen individuals who left their homes in pajamas.
In China, you gotta dress to impress, even if you’re just grocery shopping.
18. Facial recognition in the UK exists… in school canteens.
(Source: Financial Times)
Yep. It’s kind of similar to China’s KFC trick, but in canteens. Instead of paying in the old-fashioned way, pupils can now pay through a simple face scan when buying lunch.
While facial recognition stats might lead you to believe this system wouldn’t be perfect and errors might happen, it seems to be working. After all, there’s a limited number of faces in the school database, so the algorithm has an easier time matching them correctly.
Authorities say facial scanning reduces queueing times and is “more Covid-secure”. Opponents argue it’s going too far for such a mundane task.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of whether we value privacy higher than convenience or not.
Is Facial Recognition Safe?
It depends. If well regulated, it could help maintain security in public places. If abused, it could end up bringing certain dystopian worlds to life.
Read on to find out what our biggest concerns are.
19. Facial recognition is apparently racist.
(Source: The New York Times)
How accurate is facial recognition?
It depends. According to face recognition statistics, if you are a white male, the tech will correctly identify you 99% of the time. If you are a black female, only 65% of the time.
This issue arises because the datasets companies “feed” the program correspond primarily to white males. In other words, the software simply doesn’t have enough data on black females to draw on and, therefore, makes more mistakes.
In a way, that makes those affected harder to track; so, from a privacy standpoint, it’s a win.
On the flip side, it also means they could be accused of crimes they did not commit.
Granted—it’s not like an innocent will necessarily be convicted just because a facial recognition scanner mistakenly placed them at the scene of the crime. But the ensuing law enforcement run-ins would be unnecessary and unjust ordeals, to say the least.
20. FRT might lead to mass surveillance states.
When protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019, the people who were rallying either wore full-face gas masks or shielded themselves with umbrellas. They also destroyed cameras whenever possible.
Why did they go through all that trouble?
Because they knew that if they let their faces show up in just one frame, the government would identify them immediately using face-matching software.
In other words, FRT could prove detrimental to people’s freedom of speech and protesting rights.
Did we mention that technology evolves quickly?
I bet we did.
Of course, its evolution is reasonably innocent more often than not, but certain technological developments have the potential to be quite dangerous, too.
Where does biometric facial recognition lie?
On the one hand, it can make our personal lives more manageable and even the whole of society safer. But, on the other hand, it can be a powerful tool for wrongdoing.
Many countries have already introduced regulations such as the GDPR or the CCPA, which significantly limit the scope of its use in law enforcement.
At any rate, it’s clear that FRT will continue to be a part of the world’s future.
For now, we just hope our selection of facial recognition statistics didn’t scare you too much.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.