Although facial recognition technology is just beginning to break into the mainstream, the concept of capturing a photo of someone’s face for identification purposes traces back to the 1800s. In fact, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, founded in 1850, claimed to be the first organization to photograph people it apprehended.

But arguably the father of modern-day facial recognition was Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe. During the 1960s, Bledsoe figured out how to classify photos of people’s faces by hand with a RAND tablet. To do so, he employed horizontal and vertical coordinates of a grid that used electromagnetic pulses and which could record the coordinates of different locations on someone’s face.

Of course, technology has come a long way since the 1960s. For example, today’s smartphones employ facial recognition features in order to more efficiently accept digital payments and unlock themselves. Here’s a look at this technology and how it’s impacting our lives for the better.

Consumer Smartphones

Smartphones are among the latest devices to get a facial recognition technology upgrade — and the Apple iPhone X is leading the way. Apple’s latest smartphone release is designed for a full-screen experience with enhanced TrueDepth cameras and sensors that enable facial identification. The smartphone’s Face ID function replaces the previously used Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

But what does this all mean? Simply put, the idea is that consumers can more quickly and easily protect their iPhone — along with their personal information — by simply raising the device to their face to unlock it. Here’s how it works: The facial recognition technology uses an infrared camera to map out your face with a dot projector and infrared light. In particular, more than 30,000 invisible dots can create a detailed map of your face.

Aviation Industry

The aviation industry has also joined the mix. Most recently, airlines have experimented with using facial recognition technology to improve security and the passenger boarding process. Instead of printing a paper boarding pass, passengers can simply use a facial recognition system at the gate before boarding the plane.

Experts say this technology will speed up the boarding process. In particular, elderly passengers, those carrying multiple pieces of luggage and those who require physical assistance may find this process easier to navigate, especially if they no longer have to keep tabs on a paper boarding pass.

But this technology is also being rolled out as part of a broader push by Customs and Border Protection to create a biometric exit system to track non-U.S. citizens leaving the country, according to NPR. JetBlue is among the first airlines testing voluntary facial recognition as an added convenience to its customers.

Banking Apps

Due to the rise of hacking and security breaches, banks and other financial institutions are working feverishly to improve their security in order to better protect consumers’ financial safety. In fact, facial recognition could provide the answer to ensuring consumers are always in control of their account information.

For example, USAA’s banking app uses facial-recognition technology as well as so-called spoof-protection. Beyond merely scanning their face, these systems may also require users to blink their eyes during the authentication process to prevent hackers from accessing their personal and financial information.

Meantime, OCBC Bank launched OneLook, which harnesses facial recognition technology to enable payments and authenticate account information.

School Campuses

In the not-too-distant future, teachers will be able to tell if students have fallen asleep yet again during classroom lessons. In fact, a business school in Paris has introduced artificial intelligence software that monitors students’ eye movement in its online classes. The software can even develop quizzes when students take a brain siesta to get them back on track.

Of course, it’s possible facial recognition could one day also be used to keep school campuses safer by monitoring for trespassers and unauthorized visitors. As facial recognition technology spreads throughout more industries, consumers will be better able to safeguard their digital footprint and have more control of their personal devices.

The question is: When will the rest of our personal smart devices follow suit, and when will we be able to unlock our front door and start our vehicles with this same technology?