British psychologists to play role in face recognition study
20 November 2015 14:18 GMT

Psychologists from Scotland’s Stirling University are to play a key role in a major new study into a next generation face recognition technology being launched by the British government and universities.

The five-year project is expected to bring research teams from across the UK together with the Home Office and industry specialists to consider facial recognition’s potential in enhancing global security.

Stirling’s Face Research Lab will provide expertise on face perception to improve systems such as automated passport controls, the university revealed in a press release.

The university’s Professor Peter Hancock helped to develop facial recognition system EvoFIT, which is now used by police forces around the world to catch criminals. He will lead the Stirling team as it investigates the psychology behind how humans recognise familiar faces.

He said: “Humans are surprisingly poor at identifying faces they don’t know, even professionals such as passport controllers have difficulty matching people to their photographs.

But we are much better than machines at recognising familiar faces and the challenge we are undertaking is to gain an understanding of what the process is that allows us to do this.

“One of the failed London bombers in 2005 was recognised by his parents from a poor quality CCTV image and that’s the end result that we want to achieve: to teach a machine to be as effective as we are at recognising known individuals.”