TR#516: Face Recognition for Smart Environments

Alex Pentland and Tanzeem Choudhury

Appears in: IEEE Computer, February 2000

A smart environment is one that is able to identify people, interpret their actions, and react appropriately. Thus, one of the most important building blocks of smart environments is a person identification system. Face recognition devices are ideal for such systems, since they have recently become fast, cheap, unobtrusive, and, when combined with voice-recognition, are very robust against changes in the environment. Moreover, since humans primarily recognize each other by their faces and voices, they feel comfortable interacting with an environment that does the same. We present a brief summary of the history and mathematical framework of face recognition, the current state of the art, and present-day commercial systems. We then describe developments towards future applications: building interactive smart environments, augmenting human senses, skills and memory with wearable recognition technology, and ultimately making computers so usable, portable and intuitive that they become ubiquitous -- the so-called ``fourth generation'' of computing.
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