Asia Business Channel

NEC’s new facial recognition system can spot workers with masks on

An NEC employee stands in front of a monitor during a demonstration of the smart gateless and touchless entrance that allows temperature checks and face recognition for masked faces.


Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp. has rolled out technology at its Tokyo headquarters that can recognize employees’ faces even when they’re wearing masks.

NEC is reportedly using the advanced facial recognition system in an experiment it started Monday that aims to reduce the amount of touching in its offices and stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The technology allows masked workers involved in the test to get through building security gates without ID cards, according to the Kyodo News Agency. Staffers can also reportedly use facial recognition to perform basic tasks like logging onto their computers, making copies and using vending machines.

But employees caught on camera without masks will get messages pushed to their smartphones telling them to put one on, Kyodo reported. NEC workers will also be able to see how congested bathrooms and restaurants are by checking their computers, according to the news agency.


An employee walks through the gate that allows body temperature detection and face recognition for masked faces at NEC
headquarters in Tokyo

The experiment is reportedly targeting 100,000 employees at NEC and its related companies in an effort to improve business practices amid the pandemic, which has forced workplaces around the world to close or make adjustments aimed at protecting public health.

NEC first unveiled its “multimodal biometric authentication” system in May that can identify masked users by reading the irises of their eyes as well as their faces. The technology boasts a false acceptance rate of less than 1 in 10 billion, the company said at the time.




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