Facial Detection vs Recognition in Home Security Cameras

To quickly explain the difference, facial detection knows there is a face where facial recognition can put a name with a face. Both technologies are used in home security, particularly in home security cameras. But which option adds more value?

Both options use algorithms to make motion detection smarter. For example, a motion sensor, camera with facial detection, and facial recognition walk into a bar....

Motion sensor: “Motion is detected. Send an alert.”

Face Detection: “I see a face! Send an alert.”

Face Recognition: “Not so quick guys, there is a face but I know who that is.”

Facial detection is better than motion detection but facial recognition is better than all. Cameras can do a lot more with advanced software and there are many security cameras that offer the option.

Netatmo Welcome Vs. Simplicam — Face Recognition Face Off

I approached both Simplicam and Netatmo to learn how their face recognition works. Does it work? How do you set it up for the best result? What's the difference?

Simplicam’s face recognition is still in beta stage so it may not work as well as they describe. It uses feature points (eyes, eyebrows, chin, etc.) around your face and creates a profile based off of these features. Setting up profiles requires you to follow a series of directions that includes standing in front of Simplicam as it captures photos of you ‘mug-shot style’.

Simplicam can recognize up to 10 people and you can set it up different profiles for each person. For example, you might want a different notification and record setting for your spouse versus your child.

Netatmo Welcome works similarly, except for the setup process. It doesn’t require you to stand in front of the camera to create profiles, but you can do so if you want to help it learn faster.

Netatmo-Welcome-FrontNetatmo automatically looks for faces once it’s been turned on. When a face is detected, a snapshot pops up with a question mark next to it. You can see the snapshot using your smartphone. From there, you can start building a profile.

Once setup, you can also edit notification and recording settings for each profile just like Simplicam. You can tell it to stop recording when it sees you or ask it to stop notifications when it recognizes a loved one.

I asked both Netatmo and Simplicam’s support to rate their own facial recognition software. Netatmo’s support gave me an exaggerated 200%, but I see it as a show of confidence in their software. Simplicam’s support gave me a more realistic 75% to 80%. Users of the Welcome would also say 75% as our own tester found that even after weeks of learning, Welcome still had issues with recognition at times.

To put those numbers into perspective, Google is considered the leader in machine learning and facial recognition. However, do you remember when its software tagged a black couple as “gorillas”? That’s bullshit, and a clear sign that facial recognition has a long way to go.

Future of Facial Recognition

Facial recognition may need a few years to reach perfection but it still adds value now. For now it cuts down on unnecessary alerts. Instead of an alert notifying you of a bug flying by or a tree swaying in the wind, you will get notices that are more relevant to home security.

In the future, facial recognition will even be able to tie into home automation. For example, turn on the lights by simply looking at your camera. Your house might soon be able to react to you and to the rest of your family based on your personal preferences.

For now, let’s settle with the early adopters — Netatmo Welcome and Closeli Simplicam. Netatmo can be bought for $199; while Simplicam can be bought for $149 with 11 days of complimentary Closeli Recording Services or $199 for a year subscription of 1-day Closeli Recording Services. Other cameras that include face loving software? Nest Cam includes detection in their paid subscription service and Butterfleye is promising detection for free.

Featured Photo: Illegible wallpaper by Justin Pickard. Used under a (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

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