Evolving tech and politics team up to make real-time face recognition attractive

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Multiple publications are reporting on the rush to sell software, hardware and services related to real-time surveillance using facial biometrics.

Online technology publication OneZero reports that at least 45 companies are trying to get their share of that pie. The potential size of that market is anyone’s guess; it is too young for reliable estimates.

But stepping back a bit, a new market report from the Indian custom research house Fortune Business Insights indicates that sales of video surveillance products in general could grow from $19 billion globally in 2018 to $33.6 billion by 2026.

Much of that revenue will come from systems that can monitor hundreds or thousands of video feeds simultaneously, along with other systems like body cameras, trying to match faces against massive biometric databases in real-time.

Whenever new software is realistically described as being “real time,” spigots of money open wide, and that is likely to be the case here. Among the technology companies noted by OneZero as reworking lines to accommodate demand are RealNetworks, Toshiba, Cyberlink, Rokid Corp., Paravision, Intellivision, Innovatrics and Idemia.

Law enforcement and military officials very much want their people on the ground to be able to identify people on the spot without having to wait even a moment for confirmation that they need to take action.

Fortune Business Insights has attributed the anticipated revenue increase — a compounded annual growth rate of 6.8 percent — to the rapidly developing capabilities of deep learning software, which is used in video analysis and in training AI algorithms.

That rate takes into account the deflating impact that COVID-19 is having on government budgets at all levels and around the globe. But there likely is some missed upside.

The company claims that 51 percent of liberal democracies (which together dominate the world economy) have purchased advanced biometric surveillance products. If a majority of the free world is sold on surveillance systems, it might be safe to assume that the cost of sales is going to be comparatively low worldwide.

And the United States, at least for the time being, is convulsing with protests and riots about aggravated racial inequality. Local and state governments will probably consider their oversight and surveillance options. And the White House has a perhaps unprecedented hostile posture toward dissent.

Wall Street has not waited to cast its ballot when it comes to market winners in the current environment. A Business Insider article says police technology vendors selling facial recognition and body camera systems are seeing share prices rise.

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