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The difference between face recognition and face detection

The terms “face recognition” and “face detection” are often used interchangeably by photo management solutions. Though closely related, there are some important differences. Understanding them can greatly impact the how much time and effort is spent using a particular solution to organize your photo libraries. Let’s discuss what these differences are and hopefully, clear up any confusion.

Face detection is the first step

Face detection can occur without face recognition; however, face recognition isn’t possible without face detection. The process begins by first being able to detect a face exists in a digital image.

Face detection uses computer technology to scan your digital photos, looking for anything that resembles a face. Using complex algorithms, face detection discerns a human face from other objects in a photo.  Most of these methods involve machine learning algorithms that learn from millions of good and bad samples how to identify a “facial region” with a very low error rate. Some methods add a further step to identify facial landmarks including eyes, nose, and mouth.

Face recognition takes face detection to the next level

Face recognition adds identity to the detected face regions. Advanced face recognition techniques, such as those used by Tag That Photo, also use machine learning algorithms to differentiate attributes of the face region to create a unique facial signature. This is then compared to a database of known face signatures. Using statistical comparison methods the facial signatures are analyzed to determine if an unknown face matches a tagged (known) face. The more faces confirmed (tagged) for a person, the more accurate the name suggestions will be.  Tag That Photo uses these same comparison methods to group unknown faces together into “likeness clusters.”  The benefit of clustering is that it makes it possible to tag multiple images in one step.  It’s pretty sophisticated stuff.

Face detection and face recognition are important features to consider when selecting a photo organization solution. What makes face recognition valuable to photo organization is its ability to automate the face tagging process. Depending on the size of your image library, this can save significant time and effort.  Hopefully, we’ve helped shed some light on how they differ and what each has to offer.

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