Can facial recognition technology detect you with a mask?
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Can facial recognition technology detect you with a mask?

Can facial recognition technology detect you with a mask?

Algorithms can recognise facial features during authentication, based on their programmed understanding of how a mask fits on the face

Zubina Ahmed

We living in a time where people have become increasingly familiar and comfortable with facial recognition technology.

From unlocking smartphones to payment via apps, this technology is convenient, easy-to-use, secure and seamless. Additionally, the pandemic has also mandated the wearing of face masks. So do we have biometric technologies in place that can identify individuals even if they are wearing face masks?

Bhushan Kate, regional director – IMEA of VisionLabs, said, “The mask complicates the process, but we have learned to identify with high accuracy, faces with a fake moustache or beard, glasses, scarves, hats, masks or other accessories. Our algorithms take into account a large number of facial features during authentication, based on their programmed understanding of how a mask fits on the face. Partial covering of the face affects certain algorithms, but the others consistently identify the visible features.”

Headquartered in Amsterdam with regional offices in Russia, Singapore and Dubai, VisionLabs is a specialist in facial recognition technology. They’ve implemented over 20 projects in South East Asia and Japan, where face masks are part of daily routine.

Currently, the state of facial recognition regulations is still in development. Some states have their own facial recognition regulations, whilst others have data protection laws rather than regulations that specifically target the use of facial recognition. There are no universal or global facial recognition standards or regulations in place to standardise the biometric facial recognition industry.

“The accuracy of our facial recognition technology, allows for faces to be scanned even if users are wearing a mask. As we move past the pandemic, it is important to recognise the freedom of choice when it comes to wearing face masks whilst travelling and going about daily life. However, consumers shouldn’t have to forego the seamless customer experience facial recognition brings if they choose to wear a mask – instead, the technology should improve to fulfill their wishes,” stated Kate.

The technology has been adopted across more than 60 countries and is implemented into multiple use cases including fraud protection, access control, know your customer, payments and security. “This technology is already used at Emirates NBD to efficiently onboard new account holders while protecting the bank and customers from fraud and increasing processing speeds. Our software was rated among the highest in the NIST FRVT report with an accuracy of 99.9 per cent. Its accuracy allows faces to be scanned even if the user is wearing a face mask in such places,” stated Kate.

The software is also used in the company’s LUNA POS terminal, a real-time payments solution that integrates traditional card payments, tap-and-go and facial recognition payments. This enables the terminal to incorporate both traditional card payments as well as contactless FacePay.

“Our facial recognition technology includes a robust ‘liveness’ check which determines and rejects any attempts to use printed or digital photographs or in any way try to spoof the application. The liveness check combined with an excellent capability to detect and extract face images from the camera feed, provides fast and accurate recognition of faces for various use cases,” reiterated Kate.

A universal, or at least widely accepted, biometric facial recognition framework is not far away either. “Facial recognition is highly accurate, and cannot be spoofed – whereas keycards, and number codes can be stolen – making facial recognition the most secure way of protecting important areas. Therefore, we believe security in office buildings, transportation, financial institutions and much more will adopt facial recognition technology due to its superior protection,” stated Kate.

According to Insight Partner, the facial recognition industry is set to be worth over $12.6bn by 2028, which is massive growth from its value of just over $ 5bn in 2021. And by 2024, facial recognition will be present in 1.3bn devices globally showing the great desire from both merchants and consumers for this technology.

“Facial recognition technology will drastically improve financial security, access control, speed up transport check-ins, retail transactions and overhaul national security processes. Consumers are leading the charge as payment “by facial recognition” accounts for 40 per cent of the total number of payment transactions done at merchant locations. However, businesses are primed and ready for this digital transformation and are eager to provide consumers with the experiences they want,” concluded Kate.

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