First case of facial-recognition software used for thief conviction

9 Jun 2014

The technology used for facial recognition has reached the next stage in its development after the first case whereby video footage was able to convict a thief.

According to Engadget, 35-year-old Pierre Martin of Chicago was filmed on CCTV cameras holding up two men at gunpoint on two separate occasions in 2013 but thanks to the facial recognition technology known as NeoFace – developed by NEC – Martins’ fact was recognised from a database of 4.5m photos and led to his conviction.

The conviction would appear to eerily re-create the scenes of the recently-released video game Watch Dogs whereby in an alternate version of Chicago the entire city is inter-connected through a computer program that controls its infrastructure and is subsequently hacked by the lead character.

The database on which Martin was located had been collated over the past five years and was part of a US$5.4m deal made between the Chicago Police Department and NEC. NEC have also sold their facial recognition technology to other police forces around the world and even commercial businesses who wish to use the technology to read the facial expressions and profiling the customers entering their stores.

According to Sky News, Cook County’s state attorney said of the case: “This case is a great example that these high-tech tools are helping to enhance identification and lead us to defendants that might otherwise evade capture.”

CCTV camera image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic