At the beginning of the year, University of Twente PhD student Tauseef Ali presented his invention at CES, the world’s largest consumer technology fair. During the Young Technology Award in Twente last week, we had the chance to learn about Tauseef’s ground-breaking facial recognition technology. The student has spent years perfecting the software, which he now markets under the name 20Face unconditional face recognition. “Our goal is to develop the first global facial identification system as a cloud-based service.”
“What’s special about our software?”, Tauseef rhetorically asks the audience at the Young Technology Award, wearing a disguise with a wig and glasses. “You don’t recognise me like this, but our software will.” Tauseef does this to emphasise the power of 20Face. “Our software always works, with poor lighting, variations in pose, low image resolutions, and even if all you have is a partial glimpse of a face.”
Years of research
Tauseef researched facial recognition for forensic applications while doing his PhD at the University of Twente’s Services, Cyber Security, and Safety research group in 2014. For the last 5 years he has focused on improving the speed and accuracy of facial recognition. “We developed a unique algorithm that is not only precise, but also very fast. This is what distinguishes our software from the competition. It can scan a large audience in real time, which means you can use a mobile phone or iPad to pick out from the crowd, for example, fans with a stadium ban.”
Twente start-up with international ambition
Crowd control isn’t the first market 20Face has focused on, though. “I see many more potential applications, in our daily lives for example”, says Tauseef. “Remotely accessible home security systems. Workplace access.” When Tauseef came up with more than 20 potential business models for his technology, he started a business and named it 20Face, in a nod to the Twente region.
Help starting the business
Tauseef’s business plan has been taking shape in recent months, after he received help from Novel-T business developers. “I worked primarily on technology, along with our technical advisors Raymond Veldhuis and Luuk Spreeuwers from the University of Twente’s Biometric Research Group”, says Tauseef. “Erwin Holtland, Peter Hoekstra, and Alain le Loux of Novel-T helped me with business development, as well as the legal and financial aspects.” Peter Hoekstra has been involved from the very beginning and his company, Briegel, is now working with 20Face. “Peter is our business mind and guides us through market introductions”, explains Tauseef.
Facial recognition as a cloud-based service
Based on Peter’s advice, Tauseef decided to start by focusing on facial recognition as a cloud-based service. This allows users to create an account and capture their own face. “Whether you want to visit a website, make a payment, or operate a machine at your workplace, our software will recognise you and grant access. To ensure complete security, all data is stored encrypted in the blockchain. This means data is kept decentralised and cannot be cracked, guaranteeing safety and privacy for users.”
A 20Face profile for everyone
Facial recognition is one of the key enabling technologies of the future. “This truly is a breakthrough that allows us to make facial recognition more mainstream, because our patented technology is highly scalable and can be made available to millions of people at a low cost”, Tauseef says. 20Face creates an encrypted ecosystem for identification. “As the user, you decide what happens to your data. You choose who to share your face with, which applications you use, and which data you want to save. That’s how we handle the privacy dilemma that understandably comes up whenever facial recognition is mentioned.”
Las Vegas introduction
Participation in the CES technology fair in Las Vegas in January 2018 was 20Face’s first step into the international market. In the meantime, the team are building an Application Programming Interface (API) and Software Development Kit (SDK), which are required to facilitate integration of 20Face technology into other systems and applications. “There are still several challenges to overcome before we can actually use our faces as passwords and 20Face technology is ready for this. The next step is to connect with potential clients who are interested in incorporating facial recognition into their products. We are determined to use this technology to solve real-life issues and improve human lives.”
Read more about the technology in this Dutch article published by Tubantia in December 2017.
Visit 20face.com to learn more about the technology behind 20Face and its applications.