A simple selfie is leading an ancient industry down new paths and into uncharted territory. A few life insurance companies are currently testing “facial analytics” and “facial recognition” to estimate your life expectancy and current state of health.
Here’s how it works: A potential customer looking for life insurance coverage takes a selfie, uploads it to an insurance company, and then facial analysis software compares thousands of sectors on your face to arrive at benchmark data such as your BMI, smoking habits, and age. It also attempts to determine whether you are “aging well.” The “selfie” may then be compared to a previously taken photograph of you, such as the one on your driver’s license. This confirms your identity, and the images are then combined with any medical data you provided during the application process.
Lapetus Solutions Inc. is one company at the forefront of this somewhat unsettling technology.
The company describes itself as a “science and technology growth” concern, with the goal of developing products and services that will “revolutionize the prediction of life events.” Their method combines Facial Analytics, Biodemography, and Dynamic Questioning, as well as the power of cloud computing, to make real-time decisions about various aspects of business processes. They claim that their process draws on data collected from 10,000 global experts to predict life events such as mortality, morbidity, and healthy lifespan, thanks to the efforts of a scientific team spread across the fields of Health, Aging, Facial Analytics, and Data Science.
According to a company spokesperson, the technology “could enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as ten minutes” and avoid the full medical exams that are typically required when purchasing life insurance.
Make no mistake about it: this is real science that, while still in its infancy, is visible on the horizon and marching 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 over one million faces, and face recognition technology is already being used by law enforcement to search for – and identify – anyone on a criminal watch list at airports, sporting events, and other public places. Consider that the NSA has already intercepted and digitized “millions” of photos for 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.
Kasperksy Labs, the makers of sophisticated anti-virus and internet testing software, recently stated that images taken “with an average smartphone” are more than adequate to provide a basis for comparison for most facial recognition software.
However, many people are not thrilled with the idea of using a selfie to meet 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 still in the testing phase, insurance companies will almost certainly decide to incorporate them into the underwriting process. State insurance regulators will almost certainly go over such plans with a fine-toothed comb as they consider the privacy implications of such practices.
Facial analytics advancements aren’t going away; industries like banking and retail are already on board, so you might want to buy a hoodie or simply research and buy life insurance with online tools like ours, which provide anonymous life insurance quotes from 50 companies in under a minute.