A simple selfie – It’s taking an ancient industry down some brand-new pathways and into uncharted territory. Now a small number of life insurance companies are testing “facial analytics” and “facial recognition” aimed at estimating your life expectancy and the current state your health.
Here’s the idea: A potential customer looking for life insurance coverage takes a selfie, uploads it an insurance company, and then facial analysis software compares thousands of sectors on your face to arrive at benchmark data such as your body mass index, your smoking patterns and how old you look. It also aims to determine whether or not you’re “aging well.” The “selfie’ might then be compared to an existing photo of you – such as the one on your driver’s license. That confirms your identity, and then the images are combined with any medical data you may have provided during the process of applying.
One company on the forefront of this somewhat unsettling technology is Lapetus Solutions Inc.
The company is “a science and technology growth” concern, and they say their efforts are dedicated to creating products and services to “revolutionize the prediction of life events.” Their process involves combining Facial Analytics, Biodemography and Dynamic Questioning and the power of cloud computing to make determinations about various elements of business processes in real time. Using the efforts of a scientific team spread across the fields of Health, Aging, Facial Analytics, and Data Science, they say their process draws on data collected from 10,000 global experts to predict life events such as mortality, morbidity and healthy lifespan.
A company spokesperson told USA Today the technology “could enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as ten minutes” and avoid the full medical exams generally involved in the process of purchasing life insurance.
Make no mistake, this is real science that, while it may be in its infancy, is visible on the near horizon as it marches toward us all.
Facial recognition algorithms such as the University of Washington’s MegaFace have already achieved more than 73.% accuracy in a test sample of more than one million faces and face recognition technology is already in use by law enforcement to search for – and identify – anyone on a criminal watch list at airports, sporting or entertainment events. When you stop for a moment to consider that the NSA has already intercepted and digitized “millions” of photos to its own database of facial recognition programs and that the FBI is said to have 52 million photos in its NGI face recognition database as of 2015, you begin to get a feel for the possibilities the technology portends.
Kasperksy Labs, the makers of sophisticated anti-virus and internet testing software, said recently that images taken “with an average smartphone” are more than adequate to provide most facial recognition software a basis for comparison.
But many people are less than thrilled about the idea of using selfie to fulfill the needs of an insurer.
“It seems very invasive,” said Linda Erle of Rochester, NY. “I can’t imagine why they would need it, and a lot of that technology is overrated,”
While these technologies are as yet confined to testing use, insurance companies will most certainly decide to use them as a part of the underwriting process. It’s also a virtual certainty that state insurance regulators will go over such plans with a fine-toothed comb as they consider the privacy implications of such practices.
Facial analytics improvements aren’t going away, industries such as banking and retail are already on board, so you may want to purchase a hoodie or simply research and purchase your life insurance with online tools like ours which provide anonymous life insurance quotes from 50 companies in just a minute.