Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making advanced facial recognition affordable for even small businesses. The company’s watchlist lives on the cloud. It’s a centralized, managed database of biometric data (not stored photos) corresponding to the faces of peoples who’ve shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service (Figure 1).
The hardware to run Facewatch is simple to deploy. It includes a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel® NUC, a mini-PC that is only 4×4 inches in size and consumes very little power. Its performance enables it to play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity, making it ideal for a facial recognition system.
The cameras—placed at store entrances—send an image to an on-site NUC loaded with software that converts the image to an algorithm. The algorithm is compared to those in the Facewatch database on the cloud. If it discovers a match, an alert that includes the image of the individual entering the establishment—along with an accuracy reading—is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watchlist has entered its business.
To add a shoplifter to the watchlist takes only six key presses and about 20 seconds, making it easy for store or security staff, and it doesn’t interfere with their normal duties. “They simply follow a dropdown menu, the time and date are automated, tick the box, the whole thing’s designed to be simple,” said Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch.
The solution does not retain any personal data on anyone not on the watchlist. “If no match is discovered, the image is deleted in 0.3 seconds,” Fisher said, “and the entire process—from the moment a known shoplifter comes through the door, to the instant the retailer gets an alert—takes place in less than two seconds.”
The algorithm data that corresponds to the faces of people on the watchlist is meaningless on its own. In fact, if someone hacked into the database, they could not reconstruct images of people’s faces based on the algorithm data.