Published in AI

Masks no problem for NEC's facial recognition

by on07 January 2021

Look into my eyes

NEC has launched a facial recognition system that identifies people even when they are wearing masks, adapting to a new normal where face coverings have become a key form of protection against the spread of the coronavirus.

The outfit had been working on a system to meet the needs of allergy sufferers who wear masks - a common practice in Japan - when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted it to accelerate development.

Shinya Takashima, assistant manager of NEC’s digital platform division said: "“Needs grew even more due to the coronavirus situation as the state of emergency (last year) was continuing for a long time, and so we’ve now introduced this technology to the market.” 

The system determines when a person is wearing a mask and hones in on the parts that are not covered up, such as the eyes and surrounding areas, to verify the subject’s identity. Of course users must register a photo of their face in advance.

NEC says verification takes less than one second and claims an accuracy rate of more than 99.9 percent.

The system can be used at security gates in office buildings and other facilities. NEC is also trialling the technology for automated payments at an unmanned convenience store in its Tokyo headquarters.

Facial recognition means not having to produce a security card, which can be be lost or stolen, and also helps prevent the spread of germs from touching surfaces, Takashima said.


Last modified on 07 January 2021
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