Facial recognition identifies people wearing masks

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

UK police use 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.

And NEC is trialing the system for automated payments at a shop in its Tokyo headquarters. The technology could help people avoid contact with surfaces in a range of situations.

It was introduced as “needs grew even more due to the coronavirus situation.” Facial recognition has proved controversial. There have been questions over how well systems recognize darker shades of skin, alongside ethical concerns about invasion of privacy.

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