I Know Your Face

March 18, 2011

“I know your face.” Is a line spoken by Theoden to Eowyn in two of the Lord of the Rings movies. Once when the curse is lifted from Theoden, and again right before Theoden dies. OK, so maybe you aren’t a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies like I am. And maybe you are wondering why I mention it. I was reminded of this quote when I sat down to write this article about Face Recognition. Did you know it’s easy and pretty cheap to add face recognition to your computer? Read on to find out why you would want face recognition and how to get it.

You probably know that many laptops have a fingerprint reader that allow you to login to Windows by simply swiping your finger over the fingerprint reader thus avoiding having to enter a password. It’s a neat feature to have. But there is something even newer and neater. Face recognition. Boot up your computer and it will look at your face and if it recognizes  you, it will log you in automatically.

The rumor is that Windows 8, which is rumored to be coming out at the end of 2011 or first part of 2012, will have this feature built-in. However, this technology is available now.

To do this, you will first need a webcam on your computer. Many newer laptops have a built-in web cam. More and more monitors are available with built-in web cams as well. But a webcam doesn’t have to be built-in. You can purchase a web cam at any store that sells computer stuff. The often clip onto the monitor or sit near the keyboard.

Once you have a webcam, next you need face recognition software. Prices of Face Recognition software range from $10 to $50. There used to be a lot of free face recognition software, but now that it’s starting to gain popularity, there are fewer and fewer free ones.

One that that used to be free is called Blink. There is a pro version of Blink that does cost $50. In addition to facial recognition login to Windows, the pro version monitors who is using the computer. If you get up, it locks the computer. If someone who is not an approved user sits down at the computer, it locks the computer. So for a high-security situation, the pro version might be a good idea. But for most small business and residential users, the free version is probably just fine. One drawback for many users is that Blink doesn’t work on  Windows XP. It only works on Vista and Windows 7.

Another popular face recognition software is KeyLemon (formally known as BanannaScreen). It used to be free as well, but they do have a basic version that only costs $9.95. It will only login you in. The Bronze version is $19.95 and it will not only log you in, but it will log you off when you get up and leave. The Gold version is $29.95 and it will login and logout but will also track and report to you who tried to access your computer, including pictures of them. It also includes a password manager. Unlike Blink, KeyLemon will work on XP.

Yet another popular face recognition software is FastAccess. Many Dell computers that come with face recognition have FastAccess. It comes in two versions, the regular version ($24.99) and the pro version ($29.99).

With most face recognition software, once you have it installed and have a webcam, you have to do some setup so it knows which faces to allow. FactAccess, however, is a little different in that you don’t really have to set it up. The first time you run it, it just learns about your face as you use your computer. This is supposed to make it more accurate and reliable than your average facial recognition software. In addition, some facial recognition can be broken by holding a picture of the user in front of the webcam. FastAccess claims this isn’t a problem for it.

Face Recognition can be used for fun, convenience, and/or for security. It’s not very expensive to add to your computer either. Especially if you already have a webcam.

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