Imagine a world where we could pay for our shopping without cash or a card, we could order our favourite takeaways without saying a word, and we could board a flight without carrying documents.

Soon, there will be much more to facial recognition than unlocking your phone. As time goes by, new technology will no doubt utilise this software to better serve our needs.

Facial recognition (FR) software could change many things, but according to Microsoft’s president, it must be regulated before the free world more closely resembles a totalitarian empire.

Here are five ways FR technology could change the future – whether it’s for the better or for the worse, you can decide…

  1. Pay securely

In China, there is already a company that allows customers to pay for meals by scanning their faces. Orders are placed through a digital menu, with face scanners available as a payment option. After customers provide their telephone number, they can then purchase their meal. That could be handy if you forget your wallet!

  1. Personalised adverts

By now we’re surely all familiar with the concept of targeted advertising. If you have ever had a similar thought to “how does Google know I’m in the market for a new lawnmower?” …then you’ve probably been targeted! But bricks-and-mortar stores are starting to use the concept too, by tracking the journeys of customers in stores by recognising their faces. Imagine casually browsing the film section in HMV to later receive an email advertising the same DVD you picked up and put back down. Spooky.

  1. Flight check-in

Beijing’s main airport has already introduced software that scans passengers faces to confirm their identity before they can board a flight. But if this became commonplace at airports worldwide, it raises the question of whether we would be able to travel anywhere in the world without being tracked online. Say goodbye to anonymity!

  1. Reducing theft

One of the biggest advantages to coupling facial recognition software with CCTV is the faster capturing of criminals. With a camera outside every shopfront, thieves would stand little chance against this smart technology. It could also protect plant and machinery from nefarious characters. The technology is undoubtedly destined to be used to ensure only registered users can operate a forklift truck.

  1. Government surveillance

While we are on the subject of CCTV, we thought it would be best to address the elephant in the room… there is always a possibility that George Orwell predicted the future correctly in his book 1984, just forty years later than he thought! But with every new technology comes dystopian stories of all the invasive ways it could be used. Chances are, new laws will come in very soon to protect the public from such offences, or at least, that’s what the state will tell us!

We welcome any new technology that makes lives easier and reduces crime, but at what cost? It’s inevitable for some people to be unsure at first, but just like other technologies, it will soon become part of our normal daily lives. In the meantime, stay vigilant – Big Brother is watching you…