Difference Between Facial Recognition & Face Detection

Artificial Intelligence and its different applications has been at the centre of debates at technological circles for quite some time now. As you might be aware, AI or artificial intelligence deals with the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. Rather it can be considered as efforts directed towards making the machines think and act like humans. Facial recognition and face detection are two terms that you are likely to come across when you are buying any smart gadget. 

Facial Recognition- What Is It?

Facial recognition technology was developed in the mid-1960’s . The research was funded by the US military and intelligence agencies. Facial recognition refers to the technology that enables gadget to recognize human face. The system in question is believed to use  biometrics from a photograph or video to map the facial features of the person. Usually it compares this information with a database and detects the known faces that match. In short, it means that a facial recognition technology-enabled gadget or system would identify as well as verify the digital image of the person from a digital image or a video frame. 

Facial recognition is a software application that is dependent on biometrics and is uniquely capable of identifying a person by virtue of the comparisons and analysis of patterns that are present on the individual in terms of facial contours. considering the nature of the technology. It is generally used for security reasons.  

Face Detection- What Is It?

Face detection is a computer-based technology that has its roots in Artificial Intelligence. It is considered to be the most vital or substantial part of a face recognition operation. The predecessor to face detection was object detection which was related to image processing and computer vision using computer technology. The face detection algorithms were primarily aimed at detecting whether there is a face in the image or not. Subsequently Viola-Jones came up with advanced and accurate technology in the form of a Real-time face detector that was capable of detecting the faces with high-accuracy in realtime. 

Face detection is essentially the first step to face recognition. It is being used by Facebook to detect faces and to recognize them. The uses also include detecting faces in real-time with high level of accuracy.

Differences Between Face Recognition And Face Detection

Having considered what is face detection and face recognition, it would now be clear that they are indeed two different terms meaning two different things. It goes without saying that they cannot be used interchangeably and face detection is indeed the first step towards face recognition. Let us now consider the differences between the two. 

  • A face detection system works by detecting the eye of a person and subsequently moves on to the other parts of the face using the pattern detection algorithms to determine the location, presence,orientation, and scale of the face that is present in the still image or a video frame. This means that it is anonymous by rule. That is you are not making any attempt to identify the person in an image or video. It also means that this technology does not store any images and is not supported by any personal information as well. If  all the data is stored it is of aggregate, anonymous and statistical nature. However, face recognition is biometric oriented technology that goes one step further and establishes whose face it is. The face recognition technology not only takes the image of the person but also makes a prediction about whether the face matches the face in the database that you already have. It can be used to compare as well to predict the potential matches 
  • Face detection is just the first step in the process of face recognition. It just focuses on location and size of the human face in a digital image. It ignores everything else and just lets you know if there is a face or not in front of the computer 
  • Face recognition answers whose face it is by sorting the detected image and aligning it into known identities. This is done following a complex process that involves passing the data received in face detection through multiple classifiers to establish or find out the identity of the person 
  • In the retail marketing angle, Face detection technology can be helpful in finding the number of persons who visited the stall while face recognition can take it a step further and tell you how many customers visit the stall repeatedly using the data collected. Similarly, face recognition is being used extensively by the retail houses to identify shoplifters, organized retail criminals etc. Face recognition technology uses the detected image and compares it with the large database of criminals. Studies indicate that this has been helpful in reducing external shrink by 34% and violent incidents by 91%


There are a number of uses for face recognition which include finding a missing person, unlocking the smartphones, targeted advertising,  KYC in banking organizations, etc. however face detection is the process that enables face recognition using the database. It is safe to conclude that though the terms face detection and recognition cannot be used interchangeably they indeed go hand in hand when it comes to putting the advanced technology of face recognition to use. 


About Lowell Bradford

Lowell Bradford

Lowell Bradford is the Senior Editor at Surveillance-Video.com. He hails from New York City

Posts by Lowell Bradford

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *