Going mainstream in 2020: Amanda AI and facial recognition

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When you think of AI, you might think of Sophia, the AI robotic head trained to show facial expressions. In fact, there’s an entire branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) concerned with your face: facial recognition.

At TTT we’re developing innovative facial recognition technology that we’ve named Amanda AI. With Amanda, we’re focused on transforming the landscape of facial recognition and AI. Before we dive into Amanda’s impact on the coming decade, let’s start with the basics of facial recognition. 

What is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition is AI-driven technology that can measure your biometrics from the unique aspects of your face. Facial recognition can allow you to authenticate a payment, unlock your car or check in at an event. 

Over the last decade, the use of facial recognition has become more widespread. In 2015, Snapchat introduced their AR-powered “lens” feature that can 3D render elements onto your face in photos and videos (puppy filter, anyone?). Later, in 2017, Apple introduced Face ID for the iPhone X, allowing you to unlock your phone just by looking at the front-facing camera. These are both examples of facial recognition technology entering mainstream use. 

As we get into 2020, the number of possible ways of incorporating facial recognition into our day to day lives continues to grow.

An iPhone user scanning their face in order to use Apple’s Face ID.
An iPhone user scanning their face in order to use Apple’s Face ID.

Why you should care about Facial Recognition in 2020

Currently, the digital world is hyper-personalized. On the internet, you can find curated media content, smart music recommendations, customizable apps and even personalized ads. Facial recognition could be the gateway to personalized interactions in the physical world. 

In the same way that Amazon recommends items based on your online searches, facial and voice recognition could be used to give custom retail recommendations when you walk into a store. Businesses would be able to create truly unique experiences allowing them to tap into the experience economy, which will continue to grow in the 2020s.

A display of items of amazon.com in Amazon's recommended for you section.

Amazon’s recommendation engine generates 35% of its revenue, showing just how valuable personalized digital experiences can be for businesses and online shoppers.

There are many potential uses for facial recognition, and some of them generate valid concern about our privacy and the ethics of AI. Nick Wilkinson, one of TTT’s project managers discusses this in detail in his article on AI ethics. Now, where does Amanda AI fit into this?

Amanda AI

Amanda AI is an innovative solution developed by TTT that provides attendees with a seamless event check-in experience using facial recognition, email, or QR code. It integrates with event registration platforms for a seamless experience. Attendees that opt-in for facial recognition can check in to an event in under 10 seconds – it’s simple, your face is your ticket!

You might have read about our success at the Traction conference last August. Since then, over 10,000 attendees have used Amanda AI to check in to events across Canada!

Amanda is bringing the benefits of facial recognition to conference attendees while strictly respecting user privacy. Photos are only used to check in attendees and are deleted following the event. The service is opt-in only; attendees who don’t provide a photo can still check in using their email address or QR code.

We expect to see Amanda implemented at a growing number of events across Canada and the U.S. in 2020. Amanda will contribute to the widespread adoption of facial recognition and AI technology in an important way as thousands of attendees interact with our system in a single day (or even hour). For many of them, it will be their first interaction with facial recognition technology.

How facial recognition and Amanda AI are changing the landscape of AI 

There has been a surge of AI development and business applications in the last decade. Funding for AI hit $7.4 billion in the second quarter of 2019, an increase of almost 600% from the previous 4 years. However, there are several stages AI will need to cross before it can enter mainstream consumption – à la Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore.  

  1. First, AI will be adopted by companies to be more efficient in ways that aren’t necessarily visible to the end consumer (AI that helps a company allocate resources).
  2. Next, AI will have uses that are somewhat visible but won’t necessarily be seen as “artificial intelligence” by consumers. Many current AI products are at this stage. For example, most voice assistants and online recommendation engines are powered by AI. Other “invisible” uses of AI include much of the decision-making for consumer banking such as bank loans, mortgages and insurance rates.
  3. Lastly, people will interact directly with AI, such as the case with facial and voice recognition. This will take AI across the chasm and into the mainstream.

Amanda AI is helping AI make that final third jump. By allowing attendees to interact with facial recognition, attendees are directly experiencing AI and therefore building the familiarity and awareness needed for its widespread adoption.

Facial recognition is well on its way into the mainstream as highlighted this month at CES 2020, one of the world’s largest annual tech conferences. As more companies adopt facial recognition technology to streamline customer experiences, the market may see enthusiastic adoption by end-users that have an increasing desire for convenience and personalization.

Our approach to privacy and AI ethics

Two frame image showing someone using Amanda AI on an iPad indicating their ID was confirmed by facial recognition and the second frame is a person excitedly using Amanda AI
Amanda AI is TTT’s facial recognition solution for event check-in. It’s changing the landscape of AI by building the trust needed for AI to break into the mainstream.

Trust will be as important for mainstream adoption of facial recognition technology as it has been for other AI applications. In addition to the benefits it brings, we’re keenly aware of the underlying ethical concerns of facial recognition technology. These concerns are typically at the forefront of dialogue around AI in cases where facial recognition is exploited and irresponsibly deployed – as I’ve discussed in one of our previous blog posts.

At TTT, we have thought long and hard on how to approach AI ethics and building trust. We believe that being transparent and educating both our customers and end-users about the technology is key. When an attendee purchases their ticket for an Amanda AI-powered event, we provide them with a clear description of our solution, a concise overview of our data policy, and details about alternative methods of checking in.

The goal of having education as a pillar of communication is to ensure that the end-user is well-informed. This helps increase the openness of end-users to repeatedly use the technology and puts them in a position to be an advocate. So far, events using Amanda AI have been primarily technology and business conferences with facial recognition opt-in rates of 40% or more.  

We’ve seen a great increase in adoption, but in order for the landscape to change, consumer attitudes will have to change from caution and curiosity to one of comfort and practicality.

With that, if you have any questions about integrating AI into your business operations workflow, let’s chat!