Technology

Japan firm new facial recognition system identifies people through masks

facial recognition system masks

Japanese technology firm, NEC Corp, 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.

Face mask is the major protection from the spread of COVID-19 and has been used since the outbreak of the pandemic, however, the Japanese tech firm was already working on a facial recognition system to meet the needs of allergy sufferers who wear masks. This was being practiced in Japan when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted it to accelerate development.

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“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,” said Shinya Takashima, assistant manager of NEC’s digital platform division.

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. Users register a photo of their face in advance.

Furthermore, according to the NEC statement, its verification takes less than one second and claims an accuracy rate of more than 99.9%.

Security buildings and office buildings can avail this system’s facility. NEC is also trialing the technology for automated payments at an unmanned convenience store in its Tokyo headquarters.

However, NEC has declined to disclose the price of the system yet. It is targeting $970 million in sales in fiscal 2021 for its biometrics and video analysis business, which includes its facial technology systems.

“Touchless verification has become extremely important due to the impact of the coronavirus,” he said. “Going forward we hope to contribute to safety and peace of mind by strengthening (efforts) in that area”, Takashima said.

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