Facial recognition is not new, however the technology has evolved to the point where it is a serious contender in a number of very practical situations. The link to the article below using facial recognition as a tool to gather underwriting data is a case in point. Unlocking the vast amount of information in a face rather than filling out forms on health is a great improvement on data capture as well as customer service, though probably a bit freaky for some of the general population! 

Digging a little deeper and running a cursory search on facial recognition on US patents identifies some big players showing an interest: Facial recognition with biometric pre-filters  (IBM); Identifying consumers in a transaction via facial recognition (GOOGLE INC); and Facial recognition using social networking information (Facebook). 

Retailers are getting in on the act with Amazon Technologies working on a patent that similarly uses live images to authenticate a buyer. The pressure on financial services in fraud reduction, and ensuring security of customer data, makes these developments a welcome addition to the identity verification approaches applicable in many digital processes.