Amid growing speculation with our privacy online, KCTV5 News is investigating how safe facial recognition technology really is. An Olathe-based company is a worldwide leader in the industry.
Stonelock brands itself as “the face of facial recognition.” The company said there is no doubt, we will begin to see the technology pop up more and more every single day, but warns not all facial recognition software is created equal.
At times, it seems Facebook knows our faces better than we do.
The social media giant tags us in photos we may not even know exist. Our phones now use our faces to unlock the screen, granting access to our personal information.
Stonelock, however, says that’s why it’s more important than every consumer is aware of who is scanning their face and what their doing with the picture. While tech companies often store pictures of you in a database, the Olathe company has found a way to do it accurately and with no picture of your face ever captured or stored.
Stonelock CEO Colleen Dunlap gave KCTV 5 a tour of their facility. Doors to their offices and testing database can only be unlocked -- using a registered persons face.
“We cannot be spoofed. Ah that’s key. We’re not spoof-able,” Dunlap said.
She said what her and her team began developing in 2011 is the safest most secure type of facial tech in the world.
Their technology is now used to gain access to the Kansas City Police Department’s evidence room, airports, three of the world’s largest banking companies, and 40-percent of Fortune 100 companies. The company has found an elite group of buyers elite group of users for only launching in 2011 and debuting in 2013.
“That was make or break. Failure’s not an option,” Dunlap explained.
But, the company’s system t it’s not what’s used to identify you online and on our phones.
Dunlap said its important consumers understand that. She has the iPhone 10, and she says that type of facial rec has its flaws.
“I will tell you ... I have to use my code a lot. It doesn’t work as easily. We’re distinctly different. For us it’s not about collecting your data at all," she said.
Dunlap explained that Stonelock uses infrared to capture intrinsic values below the surface of the skin.
She described it’s a texture algorithm. The software looks beneath the surface of the skin. That means unlike Facebook and our phones, this knows the difference between two identical twins. It takes just 12 seconds of scanning to register somebody’s “beneath the skin” features into their system, and you are in. You can then be granted access to any room in which your profile is allowed to enter.
The software only captures and saves 5-percent of your facial data it collects.
Furthermore, what’s stored in their system does not even look like a person or a picture. It’s simply a colored map of the textured pattern beneath your skin. To the naked eye, every person’s pattern looks the same.
“Our program continues to age with you. We gain weight with you so we’re always on par with what your face is that day," Dunlap said.
The system boasts a more than 99-percent accuracy rate.
“You can actually make a silicone bust of yourself and it will not let that bust in fundamentally it looks exactly like you – but it doesn’t work with the algorithms that we create,” Dunalp said.
Ramsey Mohsen is a tech expert in Overland Park who studies the facial recognition used more commonly on Facebook and our phones.
"It is still in its infancy. It’s not perfect and there have been many debunking videos with not even professionals – amateurs – who can hack into someone’s phone without using someone’s face," Mohsen said when it comes to that type of facial recognition.
What’s more concerning, that data is stored in its system, and available to third parties to use as they please.
“Really that’s the thing that keeps me up at night. Someone utilizing this technology for bad. Could they use it against humanity in some shape or form?” Mohsen asked.
The Stonelock technology does the opposite. There is no “hub” with your data stored its only in the box within the building of the purchasing company in which it’s installed.
“That’s a security feature. We don’t want to see that data we don’t care about that data we just want to make sure it works for them,” said Todd Koonce, an engineer for the company. “It’s improved dramatically everyday.”
“The next phase is to hit the home market,” Dunlap explained.
She said Stonelock is developing technology that will eventually use your face to get you into your home, pay bills, pay for groceries and much more.
“The tech has the ability to become that widespread," she said.
She predicts cards, passcodes, fingerprints and debit cards will all become a thing of the past as facial recognition becomes the literal face of the future.
“Your face is the most accurate,” Dunlap said.
Each facial recognition scanning device to grant access to a room costs about $4,000.
As the technology becomes more advanced, the company said prices will drop. Their goal is to make it cheap enough to enter the home market within the next few years.
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