Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is now capable of identifying people wearing face masks

Facial recognition systems are used extensively nowadays in modern electronic devices and security systems in order to recognize a human face through technology. These systems basically use biometrics to identify the unique features of a person via photograph or video. The scanned face is compared with the known faces installed in a database to find a perfect match. Because of that, facial recognition systems are useful to verify personal identity while establishing the privacy of the user.

Human beings use facial features such as position, shape, and size of the nose, eyes, mouth to identify and memorize the people they familiar with. Facial recognition systems also use the same methodology but it recognizes the facial features as data in an algorithm scale. The data are stored in databases that can be easily accessed. In the identification process, first, a picture of the user’s face is captured as a photograph. Then, the facial recognition software reads the significant facial features of the face such as the distance between eyes, distance from forehead to chin. These data collectively result in the facial signature of the particular person. This mathematical formula of your facial signature is compared with the database of the known faces. As the final step, the recognition is been done.

In fact, the facial recognition system got threatened with the COVID-19 pandemic situation because people had to wear masks frequently in their day-to-day life. And people had to adapt to this new normal condition where face masks become an integral part of protection against coronavirus spread. As a solution for this problem, a leading facial recognition system developer NEC Corp. of Japan introduced a novel facial recognition system that can identify people even when they are wearing masks. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, facial recognition algorithms identified only 20-50% of images of people wearing masks before the coronavirus pandemic. But the accuracy of this new system is said to be more than 99.9% and the verification process takes only less than one second. Further, it has 1:1 verification when masks of different colors and patterns are worn by the person.


This system can detect the parts of the face which are not covered up with the mask, such as the eyes for the determination of the identity. It can be used at security gates of office buildings and other facilities. They are trailing this system for the automated payments at an unmanned store in its Tokyo headquarters. This novel facial recognition system was launched and commercially available since October 2020. It has already been bought by Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines and the Met police use NEC’s NeoFace live facial recognition system to identify faces in a crowd who are already on the watch list.

NEC is targeting ¥ 100 billion ($970 million) in sales by 2021 for its video analytics (NEC enhanced video analytics) and biometrics (Bio-IDiom services which are NEC’s biometric identification portfolio including finger vein, voice, fingerprint, iris, face, and ear acoustic solutions) business including facial recognition systems as well. “NEC DX Platform” operates by integrating biometrics, AI, security technologies, and video analysis while providing comprehensive services from applications to networks.

Shinya Takashima, assistant manager of NEC’s digital platform division states that” Touchless verification has become extremely important due to the impact of the coronavirus. Going forward we hope to contribute to safety and peace of mind by strengthening(efforts) in that area. 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 technology could help people avoid contact with surfaces in a range of situations”, he further stated to the Reuters news agency.

On the contrary, facial recognition systems are contentious. Problematic situations occurred over how well these systems recognize darker skin shades, alongside ethical concerns regarding privacy invasions. Welsh police once ruled unlawfully using facial recognition system, as a result of that a case was filed by a civil rights campaigner. Further, the US technology giants, Amazon and IBM have suspended the use of facial recognition systems by police makers facilitating the lawmakers on how the legislation should be deployed.