In an unsuspecting business park in Moscow, facial recognition is reaching new heights. It’s not from a division of Google or Microsoft, or by a covert agency, but instead by a small startup that currently employees less than ten people. The startup is NtechLab and they are changing the face of facial recognition.
NtechLab & FindFace
in the media
Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is throwing a rave party that will give a whole new meaning to the nightclub practice of face control. His Alfa Future People electronic-music festival, which drew more than 40,000 people last year, will be Russia’s first to use recognition software to identify partygoers and automatically send them snaps of their revelry — if they agree.
Whether it’s facial recognition on Apple’s iOS 10 or Facebook learning to recognize human faces virtually as well as another person, there’s no doubting that facial recognition technology is big business right now. But while both of those companies have massive, multi-billion dollar budgets behind them, a small Moscow-based artificial intelligence startup named NtechLab may have stumbled upon one of the best facial recognition systems around.
In «The Dark Knight,» the seminal reboot of the «Batman» cinematic franchise, the Caped Crusader is able to locate any of Gotham’s denizens on a whim, by hijacking the microphones and cameras on their cellphones. FindFace, the identification app created by Alexander Kabakov, 29, and Artem Kukharenko, 26, is not quite as powerful as Christopher Nolan’s Orwellian nightmare tool. But the Russian developers say their facial recognition software could be used by authorities to fight crime — and, just as easily, score dates with attractive strangers.
If the founders of a new face recognition app get their way, anonymity in public could soon be a thing of the past. FindFace, launched two months ago and currently taking Russia by storm, allows users to photograph people in a crowd and work out their identities, with 70% reliability. In the short time since the launch, Findface has amassed 500,000 users and processed nearly 3m searches, according to its founders, 26-year-old Artem Kukharenko, and 29-year-old Alexander Kabakov.
Their facial recognition software outperforms Google and China’s best programs — spotting a single face within a crowd of 1 million within a fraction of a second — but the Russian developers behind the technology used by FindFace say what they’ve shown is just the tip of the iceberg. At a conference called by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NtechLabs co-founders Artem Kuharenko and Alexander Kabakov showed U.S. government officials what their program is capable of for the first time this week.
Russian startup NtechLab recently became a leader in the MegaFace challenge in face recognition algorithms at the University of Washington. NtechLab uses advanced techniques in the field of artificial neural networks and machine learning to develop its software products. The company’s facial recognition algorithm extracts the characteristic features of a person’s face from a picture.