Understanding Machine Learning in Facial and Video Recognition: Unraveling the Basics

Introduction to Machine Learning

Table of Contents 

What Is Machine Learning?
  • Definition and explanation of machine learning
  • 3 main types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning
  • Brief history and evolution of machine learning
Understanding Basics of Machine Learning
  • Datasets: training, validation, and test sets
  • Features and labels
  • Models, algorithms, and hyperparameters
The Machine Learning Process: How It Happens
  • Data collection
  • Data preprocessing
  • Model selection and training
  • Evaluation
  • Optimization and tuning
  • Prediction and inference
Machine Learning in Facial Recognition
  • The Importance of AI facial recognition
  • Steps in machine learning for facial recognition
  • Examples of machine learning and AI in facial recognition: AIIR ID and AIIR Pass by ALCHERA 
Machine Learning in Video Recognition
  • Importance and applications of AI video recognition
  • Machine learning techniques in video recognition
  • Example of machine learning and AI in video recognition: AIIR Scout by ALCHERA
Future Trends in Machine Learning for Facial and Video Recognition
  • Advances in machine learning algorithms
  • Enhancements in hardware and computational power
  • Potential impact on various industries and societal implications


What Is Machine Learning?

Definition and explanation of machine learning

Machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on developing systems capable of learning patterns from data, making predictions or decisions without the need for explicit programming. In other words, machine learning involves training a model using large amounts of data to enable it to perform a specific task. Once trained, the model can then generalize from learned patterns to make predictions on unseen data.

Machine learning algorithms can detect patterns and learn how to make decisions or predictions based on these patterns. This process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on these learned patterns.


3 main types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning

Broadly, there are three main types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Each type is characterized by the method it uses to learn from data.


Supervised learning

In supervised learning, the model is provided with labeled training data. A label is essentially the answer or outcome that the machine learning model should aim to predict. For example, in a dataset used to train a model to predict housing prices, the labels might be the actual prices at which different houses were sold.

The supervised learning model is "supervised" in the sense that it learns from this annotated data to produce accurate predictions for new, unseen data. Once trained, the model can interpret new input data by itself and generate corresponding output.

Common types of supervised learning algorithms include regression algorithms (for predicting continuous outputs) and classification algorithms (for predicting discrete outputs). Examples include linear regression, logistic regression, support vector machines, and neural networks.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised learning differs from supervised learning in that the model isn't trained on labeled data. Instead, the model is provided with a set of input data without any explicit instructions about what to predict. The goal is for the model to find inherent patterns or structures in the input data.

For instance, unsupervised learning algorithms can be used for clustering, wherein the model organizes data points into groups based on their similarities. They can also be used for anomaly detection, wherein the model flags data points that are significantly different from the rest.

Common types of unsupervised learning algorithms include k-means clustering, hierarchical clustering, and principal component analysis.

Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement learning is a type of machine learning wherein an agent learns to make decisions by taking actions in an environment to maximize some notion of cumulative reward. In reinforcement learning, the model learns by trial and error to achieve a goal.

The agent starts off with no knowledge of the environment, and it must figure out a strategy or policy to navigate the environment based on the rewards and punishments it receives for its actions. A key characteristic of reinforcement learning is that the feedback is delayed — the agent doesn't know if an action is beneficial until some time later.

Common applications of reinforcement learning include game playing, robot navigation, resource management, and many more. Algorithms used in reinforcement learning include Q-Learning, Deep Q Network (DQN), and Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO).

Each of these machine learning types has its strengths and is best suited to different types of tasks. The choice of which to use often depends on the available data and the specific problem to be solved.

We have covered everything related to AI image recognition in one of our previous blog posts. Check it out!  


Brief history and evolution of machine learning

Machine learning in 1950s and 1960s

Machine Learning, in its modern form, started to take shape in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, scientists began to explore the concept of creating algorithms that could let computers learn from data. One of the pioneers was Arthur Samuel, who developed a program to play the game of checkers in 1959. The program was designed to learn from its past games and improve over time. Around the same time, Frank Rosenblatt introduced the concept of the perceptron, the basic unit of what later became neural networks.

Machine learning in 1970s and 1980s

In the 1970s and 1980s, machine learning started to borrow from statistics, and the emphasis moved away from symbolic, rule-based approaches towards a more data-driven methodology. During this time, there was considerable progress in developing algorithms for learning decision trees and clustering. The "Neural Network Revolution" also happened during the 1980s, leading to the popularization of backpropagation.

Machine learning in 1990s

The 1990s saw the development of more practical machine learning algorithms, including the Support Vector Machine (SVM) and boosting algorithms. This period also saw a shift towards refining and improving the algorithms, and their applications started to become clearer.

Machine learning in 2000s

The new millennium saw an explosion in the amount of data being produced, and this big data provided the perfect training ground for machine learning algorithms. The 2000s saw a resurgence of Neural Networks in the form of Deep Learning, which drew inspiration from our understanding of the human brain and neural processing.

Machine learning in 2010s to present

From 2010 onwards, machine learning has grown rapidly. It has benefited from the twin forces of increased computational power (particularly through the use of GPUs) and access to vast quantities of data. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, has become especially popular, driven by its successes in tasks such as image and speech recognition.

With increasing interest and advancements in the field, Machine Learning has found applications in many areas of technology, business, science, and society. The evolution of Machine Learning has also given rise to advancements in other AI domains such as Reinforcement Learning and Transfer Learning.



Understanding Basics of Machine Learning

Machine learning involves several key concepts that form the basis of how systems learn and improve. These concepts include datasets, features and labels, models, algorithms, and hyperparameters.

Datasets: training, validation, and test sets

In machine learning, data is everything. It forms the foundation on which models are built and refined. Typically, a dataset is divided into three subsets: training, validation, and test sets.

Training set

This is the primary dataset used for learning. The machine learning model is trained on this data, which means that it tries to make predictions and then corrects itself based on the errors it makes.

Validation set

The validation set is used to prevent overfitting, which happens when a model learns the training data so well that it performs poorly on new, unseen data. The validation set provides a way to tune model parameters (hyperparameters) and to provide an unbiased evaluation of a model fit on the training set while tuning the model's hyperparameters.

Test set

After a model has been trained and validated, it's then tested on the test set. This dataset provides the gold standard for evaluating the model since it's data that the model hasn't seen before. It's used to gauge how well the model has learned to generalize from the training data to new data.


Features and labels

Features and labels are critical components of the datasets used in supervised learning.


Features, also known as attributes or input variables, are individual measurable properties or characteristics of the phenomena being observed. They are the variables that the model uses to make its predictions. For example, if the task is to predict the price of a house, features could include its size, its location, the number of rooms it has, and so on.


Labels, also known as targets or output variables, are the values we want the model to predict. In the house price prediction example, the label would be the actual price at which the house was sold.


Models, algorithms, and hyperparameters

Models, algorithms, and hyperparameters are the tools and settings that allow a machine-learning system to learn from data.


A model in machine learning is a mathematical representation of a real-world process. To generate a prediction, the model takes in the features of a data point as input and outputs a prediction.


An algorithm, in the context of machine learning, is a specific procedure for how the model learns from data. Different types of learning (supervised, unsupervised, reinforcement) use different types of algorithms. Some well-known algorithms include linear regression, decision trees, and neural networks.


Hyperparameters are the knobs and dials that can be turned when setting up a machine learning system. They're not learned from the data but are set beforehand. For example, in a neural network, the learning rate is a hyperparameter that determines how much the weights of the network are adjusted with respect to the loss gradient during training.



The Machine Learning Process: How It Happens

Machine learning involves a multi-step process that transforms raw data into useful predictions. Let's examine the steps involved in this process.

Data collection

The first step in the machine learning process is data collection. This involves gathering and integrating data from various sources that could be used to train, validate, and test the machine learning model. The data collected can come in many forms, including structured data (e.g., CSV files, SQL databases) and unstructured data (e.g., text files, images).

The quality and quantity of data collected can significantly impact the performance of a machine-learning model. Therefore, it's crucial to ensure that the data collected is representative of the problem space and as free from biases as possible.


Data preprocessing

After data collection, the next step is data preprocessing, which involves preparing and cleaning the data for use in the model. This can include:

  • Data cleaning: Handling missing values, outliers, or other inconsistencies in the data.
  • Data transformation: Converting data into a format suitable for the machine learning algorithm. This could involve normalization (scaling numeric data to a small range), handling categorical variables, or feature engineering, wherein new features are created based on existing ones.
  • Data splitting: Dividing the dataset into training, validation, and test sets.


Model selection and training

Model selection involves choosing the best machine learning algorithm for the problem at hand. The choice of the model can depend on the size, quality, and nature of the data, the insights available, the prediction task, and various other factors.

After selecting a model, the next step is to train it on the training data. Training involves presenting the model with the input data (features) and asking it to make a prediction. The model's prediction is compared to the actual output (label), and the model adjusts its internal parameters to improve its predictions.



Once the model has been trained, it's important to evaluate its performance before deploying it. Evaluation involves using some metrics to assess how well the model's predictions match the actual output.

The model is first evaluated on the validation set, and performance is used to tune the hyperparameters of the model. Once the hyperparameters are finalized, the model is evaluated on the test set. It's important to ensure that the model generalizes well and doesn't just memorize the training data.


Optimization and tuning

Optimization and tuning involve refining the model to improve its performance. This could involve tuning hyperparameters, which are the settings and configurations that determine how the model learns from the data. It could also involve feature selection, where the most relevant features are selected for training the model.


Prediction and inference

After the model has been trained and optimized, it's ready to make predictions on new, unseen data. This process is often referred to as inference. The model uses the learned patterns from the training phase to generate predictions or make decisions based on new input data.

Overall, the machine learning process is iterative. Based on the model's performance, you might need to go back to previous steps to collect more data, engineer new features, or try different models and hyperparameters. It's a complex process, but with every iteration, the model gets closer and closer to making accurate predictions.



Machine Learning in Facial Recognition

The Importance of AI facial recognition

Facial recognition is a significant application of machine learning that has gained immense popularity in recent years. The ability to identify or verify a person's identity using their face from a digital image or a video frame makes facial recognition a critical tool in numerous domains.

From smartphones using facial recognition for authentication to surveillance systems in public safety, the technology is widely used and continues to grow in importance. It's crucial in areas like biometrics, social media, security systems, and more. It not only enhances user convenience in devices like smartphones, but also plays a vital role in improving public safety and securing sensitive information and areas.


Steps in machine learning for facial recognition

Machine learning makes facial recognition possible, and it typically involves three significant steps:

Face detection

Before a face can be recognized, it first has to be detected. Face detection is the process of identifying the presence and location of a face in a digital image or video. Machine learning, especially with the use of convolutional neural networks, has significantly improved the accuracy of face detection. The output of this step is usually a bounding box that isolates the face from the rest of the image.

Facial features extraction

Once the face is detected, the next step is to identify the unique features of the face that can be used to differentiate one face from another. This step is known as facial features extraction. The features could include the distance between the eyes, the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, the shape of cheekbones, and other distinguishable landmarks known as nodal points.

Feature extraction can be performed using a variety of methods, but deep learning techniques have proven to be very effective. A popular method is to use a pre-trained neural network to convert the face into a high-dimensional vector of numbers, which can be used as a compact representation of the face.

Facial features matching

The final step in the facial recognition process is matching the extracted features with the faces already stored in the database. This is akin to finding the nearest neighbor of the face vector in high-dimensional space. The distance measure could be Euclidean distance, cosine similarity, or other types of distance measures.

The most straightforward approach would be to compare the face to every face in the database, but this can be very inefficient if the database is large. More efficient algorithms, such as k-d trees or hashing methods, are often used in practice.

Each of these steps leverages machine learning in a significant way, enabling systems to effectively and accurately recognize faces in real-time or static environments. From the use of convolutional neural networks for face detection to deep learning-based feature extraction, machine learning continues to evolve and enhance the field of facial recognition.


Examples of machine learning and AI in facial recognition: AIIR ID and AIIR Pass by ALCHERA 

AIIR ID, developed by ALCHERA, stands as an excellent case study showcasing the power of machine learning in facial recognition. It is a face recognition solution that uses artificial intelligence to offer accurate, fast, and robust face recognition services.
AIIR ID utilizes the benefits of deep learning to provide high-performance facial recognition. The system boasts of offering high-speed facial recognition, which takes less than a second to recognize a face from an image or a video stream.

The facial recognition solution is trained with a vast and diverse dataset, which has allowed the solution to minimize biases and achieve high accuracy rates even in challenging conditions. These conditions could include variations in facial expressions, aging, makeup, accessories, lighting conditions, and camera angles.

AIIR ID is a perfect solution for banking and finance: AIIR ID can provide seamless authentication, increasing both security and user convenience.

Another great example of the utilization of machine learning in facial recognition is AIIR Pass, which is also developed by ALCHERA. This sophisticated system is designed to enhance security and streamline access control processes in a wide range of applications, from corporate buildings to residential apartments, and even in educational institutions.

Employing deep learning, a branch of machine learning, AIIR Pass has been designed to provide a high-accuracy and swift face recognition service. The system can recognize faces and grant access in less than a second, providing a smooth, non-intrusive access control experience. The integration of AI allows AIIR Pass to recognize faces in real time accurately, even under conditions such as changes in facial expression, changes in lighting, and the presence of accessories.

AIIR Pass offers numerous features that make it a convenient and secure solution for access control:

  • Contactless authentication: AIIR Pass provides a touch-free solution that uses facial recognition for authentication, enhancing hygiene and convenience.
  • Multiple device integration: It can be integrated with devices including smartphones, tablets, kiosks, and more, making it a versatile solution for a range of applications.
  • Visitor management: AIIR Pass allows for swift and secure visitor registration and access control. This feature helps manage visitor traffic efficiently and improves overall security.
  • Real-time alerts: The system can issue real-time alerts upon detecting unauthorized access attempts, improving the speed and efficiency of the response.
  • Compliance with privacy laws: Recognizing the importance of privacy, ALCHERA ensures that AIIR Pass is designed to comply with all relevant privacy laws and regulations.

AIIR Pass serves as a prime example of how machine learning can revolutionize traditional systems. The seamless integration of AI into an access control system provides enhanced security, convenience, and efficiency, pointing to a promising future for AI in the realm of access control and security solutions.

Both AIIR ID and AIIR Pass are testament to the power of machine learning in facial recognition. Their ability to recognize faces swiftly and accurately under varying conditions showcases how machine learning has significantly evolved the field of facial recognition technology.



Machine Learning in Video Recognition

Importance and applications of AI video recognition

Video recognition, also known as video analytics or video content analysis, is a technique wherein machine learning and artificial intelligence are used to automatically understand and interpret video content. The importance of video recognition has grown significantly in recent years due to advancements in machine learning and the proliferation of video data.

Video recognition finds a wide array of applications across various industries. In surveillance and security, it's used for threat detection, crowd management, and incident detection. In retail, it helps in understanding customer behavior and optimizing store layouts. For media and entertainment companies, it's used for content tagging, copyright infringement detection, and personalized recommendations. In healthcare, it assists in patient monitoring, surgical procedure analysis, and disease detection. It's also used in self-driving cars for detecting pedestrians, vehicles, and obstacles.


Machine learning techniques in video recognition

The process of video recognition typically involves the following steps. 

Frame selection and preprocessing

The first step in video recognition is frame selection and preprocessing. Since a video is essentially a sequence of frames, the initial stage involves selecting key frames from the video for further analysis. The selection of frames depends on the video content and the specific task at hand. Preprocessing may include tasks like resizing, normalization, and augmentation.

Feature extraction

Once key frames are selected and preprocessed, the next step is feature extraction. The goal of feature extraction is to transform the visual data into a form that's easier to work with. Techniques such as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), Scale-Invariant Feature Transform (SIFT), and Speeded-Up Robust Features (SURF) are used to extract features that represent the contents of the frames.

Classification and object tracking

After the features are extracted, they are used for classification tasks such as object recognition, activity recognition, and scene recognition. Classification involves assigning a label to the video (or a frame within the video) based on its content.

Object tracking is another crucial aspect of video recognition. It involves locating objects in video frames and tracking their movements and interactions over time. Algorithms like Kalman Filters, Particle Filters, and tracking-by-detection methods are commonly used.


Example of machine learning and AI in video recognition: AIIR Scout by ALCHERA

AIIR Scout, developed by ALCHERA, is an advanced video analytics solution leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Designed to process and analyze real-time video data, AIIR Scout can recognize and track numerous objects including people, vehicles, and other elements in a given scene.

The core strength of AIIR Scout lies in its robust AI algorithms, powered by deep learning. It effectively processes video feeds from multiple cameras simultaneously, making it capable of handling large-scale surveillance tasks. AIIR Scout has been trained to understand and analyze patterns and sequences in videos, which allows it to accurately detect, classify, and track objects.

Key features and applications of AIIR Scout include:

  • Real-time analysis: AIIR Scout is designed for real-time object detection and tracking, analyzing video feeds instantly for immediate insights.
  • Multiple object detection: AIIR Scout can simultaneously detect and track multiple objects within the video feeds. This includes people, vehicles, and a wide variety of specific behaviors or events.
  • Data visualization: AIIR Scout offers comprehensive data visualization tools, helping users understand the insights derived from the analyzed video data more intuitively.
  • Solution for businesses and organizations: AIIR Scout provides a crucial solution for businesses and organizations that need to monitor and control a large number of people in real time. It is particularly valuable for situations such as large events, crowded public spaces, and high-traffic commercial areas. AIIR Scout can identify individual people, track their movements, and even detect specific behaviors or anomalies, providing valuable insights to its operators. What makes AIIR Scout particularly powerful is its real-time processing capability.  Unlike traditional methods that might require manual monitoring or delayed analysis, AIIR Scout can instantly process video data as it is streamed. This means that businesses can react promptly to any potential issues, ranging from security concerns to crowd flow optimization, enhancing both safety and efficiency. Furthermore, AIIR Scout's analytics can contribute significantly to strategic decision-making. Through pattern recognition and predictive analytics, organizations can better understand crowd behaviors, plan resources more effectively, and make informed, data-driven decisions. 

AIIR Scout showcases the potential of machine learning in video recognition, revolutionizing the way we analyze and gain insights from video data. Its applications are vast and its potential impact significant, demonstrating how AI can enhance our ability to understand and interact with the world around us.



Future Trends in Machine Learning for Facial and Video Recognition

As we move forward, the fields of machine learning and AI are set to bring even more significant transformations to facial and video recognition. Below are some of the anticipated trends and their potential implications.


Advances in machine learning algorithms

Machine learning algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated. One key trend is the development of more efficient and accurate algorithms for recognition tasks. For instance, new architectures of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and advancements in unsupervised and semi-supervised learning are enhancing the accuracy and speed of recognition.

Moreover, we can expect the rise of explainable AI (XAI), which aims to make machine learning models more transparent and understandable. This will be crucial in facial and video recognition applications, wherein decisions may have significant consequences and accountability is required.


Enhancements in hardware and computational power

The growth of machine learning and facial and video recognition technologies is tightly linked with advances in hardware and computational power. The advent of GPUs and TPUs has already accelerated the processing capabilities, and with quantum computing on the horizon, we can expect even more substantial boosts in the future. This will allow for the real-time processing of high-resolution videos and the application of more complex, accurate recognition models.


Potential impact on various industries and societal implications

The advancements in machine learning for facial and video recognition will significantly impact diverse sectors. In healthcare, improved recognition algorithms can facilitate patient monitoring and early disease detection. For law enforcement and security, enhanced recognition capabilities will augment surveillance systems and improve public safety.

On a societal level, the widespread application of these technologies raises essential questions about privacy and data security. As these technologies become more prevalent, ensuring that they are used responsibly and ethically will be a critical challenge.

In conclusion, while we can look forward to impressive technological advancements in facial and video recognition, it is equally important to ensure that these technologies are developed and used with a careful consideration of their broader social implications and potential impacts on privacy and data security.