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UK’s Facial Recognition Startup could be the Answer for Brexit’s Irish Border Issue

A facial recognition startup based in London held talks with the United Kingdom government regarding its usefulness in managing border crossings, especially between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This situation is in response to the departure of the UK from the European Union.

The six-year-old startup, Iproov, has garnered interest from the United Kingdom government about several activities including border crossings among others.

The company’s chief executive officer and founder, Andrew Bud, emphasized this point by stating the company has a significant deal of high-level and focused interest in its technology.

Aside from the UK government’s interest in the company’s technology, Iproov prides itself on winning a contract from the Department of Homeland Security.

The contract involves the creation of a system that utilizes that startup’s facial technology to not only improve security but also minimize waiting times mainly at border crossings.

Iproov’s facial recognition technology is currently being used by banking institutions such as DNB and Rabobank in Norway and the Netherlands respectively.

Also, the United Kingdom’s tax agency is among the users. The technology can be used with a smartphone and pre-existing photographic records including driving license or passport photographs.

The facial recognition works by using the phone or another device to record a short clip of someone’s face while a pattern of colored light is shining on them (their face). In turn, it evaluates reflection by comparing it to what the system expects in a bid to verify identity.

The issue regarding how to eliminate the possibility of a hard border on Ireland’s island once it becomes home to the EU’s border with the UK is still far from being resolved.

In fact, getting a way to avert border infrastructure at the Irish border has proven to be one of the leading disagreement issues between the European Union and the UK.

Even so, it may derail talks even more.

According to the UK government, the technology could be a significant part of solving the border problem.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, highlighted the need for substantial and measurable progress on the Irish border problem in the negotiations by June.

Iproov’s facial recognition system has proven to be better than other systems in that it cannot be fooled by a person holding a digital image to the digital camera.

Nevertheless, this situation raises the alarm, particularly with machine learning networks becoming increasingly better at producing fake images.

Bud also pinpointed the uniqueness of machine learning in using photographic images from an available database with a mobile phone being used to record video images, without the need for a user to enroll his or her face through that device.

The startup’s pilot project with the US border agency serves as a part of a four-phase agreement estimated to be worth $800,000. Phase one is valued at $190,000.

In an interview statement, Andrew Bud said that Iproov’s system has proven itself in benchmark evaluation to be over 100 times more accurate in checking a person’s identity against their passport photo than a trained passport officer.


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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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