Facial recognition systems are not new, but you may be surprised at how far the technology has come over the past decade.

A facial recognition system is a computer application that verifies a person’s identity from his or her digital image. That image can be your driver’s license, a single frame from a store’s surveillance video or just about any other electronic file with your face on it.

Scientists at the University of Miami are looking at newer 3-D technology to improve the accuracy of facial recognition programs. Here’s a photo from their laboratory showing how computers can determine anatomical point pairings using a program called Adaboost for 3-D face recognition.

It works by comparing selected facial features it scans from your image with a database of other faces.  You’ve probably seen this in the moves—or some variation of it. (Think retina eye scan in movies like Get Smart.)

These days facial recognition technology companies are in the news as larger corporations swallow up the startups or invest in their technology. Over at TechCrunch this week comes word that startup company Viewdle, with its patented facial recognition system that automatically identifies faces in videos and photos across mobile phones and computers, has secured $10 million from investors in companies including Best Buy, BlackBerry Partners Fund and Qualcomm.

Recently in the news was word of Apple shelling out $29 million for Polar Rose and Face.com grabbing Yandex for $4.3 million.

The technology isn’t perfect, but getting closer to it all the time.  I think these companies and certainly the technology itself will be worth watching.

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