NEC launched facial recognition system that can identify people wearing mask

Japanese company NEC, which develops facial-recognition systems, has launched one that can identify people even when they are wearing masks.

It hones in on parts of the face that are not covered up, such as the eyes, to verify their identity, reports BBC.

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Verification takes less than one second, with an accuracy rate of more than 99.9%, NEC says.

The Met Police uses NEC’s NeoFace Live Facial Recognition to compare faces in a crowd with those on a watchlist. Other clients include Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines, reports BBC.

And NEC is trialling the system for automated payments at a shop in its Tokyo headquarters.

Shinya Takashima, assistant manager of NEC’s digital platform division, told the Reuters news agency the technology could help people avoid contact with surfaces in a range of situations.

It had been introduced as “needs grew even more due to the coronavirus situation”, he added.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, facial-recognition algorithms failed to identify 20-50% of images of people wearing face masks, according to a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

But by the end of 2020, it reported a vast improvement in accuracy.

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