Research impact - Facial recognition

Karen Baxter

A case study submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 demonstrating the impact of the University's research.

Research at Kent has revolutionised the way that facial composites are created. The facial recognition suite (EFIT-V), created by Kent’s spinout company VisionMetric, is now used by more than 90% of police forces in Britain and has been sold to 16 countries around the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa and Sweden.

In the commercial systems used before EFIT-V, a witness had to select the best match for facial features from a database of stored images. However, facial recognition does not happen in this way but via a more holistic impression – in other words, people find it easier to recognise a face than to recall and describe its individual features.

To mimic the process of face recognition, EFIT-V uses methods of computerised facial synthesis and provides the eyewitness with flexible ways to alter its appearance to achieve a facial likeness. The improved images, circulated within the police force and to the general public, have led to identification rates jumping from 5% to 55%.

The research was led by Dr Christopher Solomon and Dr Stuart Gibson of the School of Physical Sciences.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 showed that Kent ranks 17th in the UK for research intensity, has world-leading research in all subjects and that 97% of our research is deemed to be of international quality.

Contributing to the University’s REF success were the number of our world class publications, the number of research active staff and the demonstrable impact our research has made to the sciences and to economic, social and cultural understanding.