Instant facial recognition technology being tested in San Diego

Handheld version being tested by unnamed agency

SAN DIEGO - A groundbreaking new facial recognition system is being tested in San Diego. It can identify faces in a split second.

"We believe facial recognition will be in every day society," said San Diego native Joseph Saad.

Saad is the business development director for FaceFirst, the Camarilo, Calif. based company that has become the first to develop software that makes facial recognition almost instantaneous. Right now, there are limitations to facial recognition systems. Once cameras spot a person, it could take some five minutes to make a match. By that time, the person could be long gone.

Those concerns have limited facial recognition to places like airports and casinos, until now.        

Using unique algorithms, FaceFirst can compare millions of photos per second, which can lead to a match in one second.

10News has learned an unnamed law enforcement agency in San Diego County has been testing a handheld version for about five months.

"If they spot someone who doesn't have identification, they can take their picture with their phone and immediately get a result," said Saad.

10News was told the software has led to several local arrests.

FaceFirst is now looking to expand beyond law enforcement into the military and retail, where photos of shoplifters can be stored and would-be criminals spotted the moment they enter into a store simply by showing their face.

The San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union tells 10News, "Americans should be able to move about and not live under the constant watchful camera lens like characters in a George Orwell novel."

In response, FaceFirst points out that databases used for face matches usually are filled with criminals and suspects.  

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