Azmath Moosa

Best Face Recognition SDKs as of 2018

December 22, 2017

Since deep learning took off in 2012, Face recognition has become an exciting market with multiple companies offering a diverse array of solutions.  Integrating face recognition capabilities into your project has never been easier.  If you are not sure about what face recognition SDK/API to choose, this article will help you.


There are primarily two types of solutions, Face Recognition SDKs and Face Recognition APIs.

APIs are usually cloud hosted and are available on a subscription basis.  There are limits on the number of queries per second or per month and on the face database storage capacity.  Since they are cloud hosted, these APIs are accessible from any platform/device and extremely easy to integrate in your existing codebase.  It is also easy to switch services if desired.  The deep learning algorithms run on the provider's infrastructure and this alleviates a major burden of managing GPU compute resources.  However, APIs have a significant drawback - they cannot be used for real time applications.  On the one hand, they will become very expensive and two, uploading 30 images per second over the internet is not feasible in any realistic sense.  They also require a reliable network connection.  Apart from these, one should also pay attention to the pricing of the vendor.  Some dynamic pricing plans have can cause monthly bills to shoot-up exponentially!

SDKs, on the other hand, are either available as pre-built libraries or provided along with source code for integration in the application.  They work completely offline and upon build/compilation, the program becomes a single unit containing the face detection/recognition algorithm.  This also makes it feasible for real-time applications.  There are no limits on the number of queries or storage capacity.  However, the infrastructure to deploy this application must be managed by you.  They are also quite expensive to license compared to cloud APIs.

The table below summarizes the above

Face Recognition API

Face Recognition SDK

  • Cloud hosted - no need to worry about computing resources.
  • Easy to switch services.
  • Create and deploy cross-platform applications.


  • Limited number of queries per second/month.
  • Limited face database storage.
  • Needs reliable internet connection.
  • Unfit for real-time usage.
  • Be vigilant about dynamic pricing.
  • Available as libraries meant to be integrated into the application.
  • Unlimited queries/storage.
  • Algorithms run offline.
  • Real-time capable.


  • Hardware resources must be managed by you.
  • Expensive licensing fees.
  • Not easy to switch services.

Cloud APIs

Here is a summary of the different competitive Face Recognition APIs currently available in the market in no particular order

Head Pose
Other Classifiers
BetaFace API
Yes 123 Yes Yes Smile/Neutral No Facial hair, Glasses
Yes 83 or 106 Yes Yes 7 classes Yes Face quality
Eye status
Mouth status
Eye gaze
Amazon AWS Rekognition
Yes 23 Yes Yes 3 Classes +
Smile intensity
Yes Beard
Mouth Open
Yes 27 Yes Yes Smile Intensity Yes Facial hair, glasses
Google Cloud Platform
Yes No No No Smile/Neutral No Headwear
IBM Watson Face
Yes No Yes Yes No No None
Animetrics FaceR API
Yes 24 Yes Yes No Yes None
Kairos API
Yes 49 Yes Yes 6 classes Yes Ethnicity
Eye status
Meerkat FR
Yes 68 Yes No No Yes None

Commercial SDKs

Here is a summary of the different competitive Face Recognition SDKs currently available in the market

Head Pose
Other Classifiers
BetaFace SDK
Win/Lin Yes 123 Yes Yes Smile/Neutral No Facial hair, Glasses
Cognitec VACs
Win/Lin/ARM Yes unknown Yes Yes No Yes Glasses
Eye status
Lighting, Color
Image and face geometry
Full-frontal image check as required for ePassport
Luxand FaceSDK
Win/Lin/ARM Yes 70 Yes Yes Smile/Neutral Yes Eye status
NeuroTech VeriLook SDK
Win/Lin/ARM Yes No Yes No No No None
SightCorp Insight SDK
Win/Lin/ARM Yes unknown No Yes 7 classes Yes None
Animetrics FaceR API
Win/Lin Yes 24 Yes Yes No Yes None
Visage SDK
Win/Lin/ARM Yes 68 Yes Yes 6 classes Yes Eye status,
Gaze tracking
Affectiva SDK
Win/Lin/ARM Yes No False Yes 7 classes Yes Ethnicity
Deepsight SDK
Win/Lin Yes 68 Yes Yes soon soon None

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