Firms are adapting technologies to allow facial recognition “see through” face-covering devices
With the COVID-19 outbreak surging through the world at breakneck speed and the number of cases worldwide currently standing at 3.4 million, the use of face-shielding apparel such as masks has become norm by necessity. Globally, many countries and governments have been using surveillance technologies to “track patients infected by the coronavirus” in order to limit its spread. And here lies the catch – mask-usage acts as a deterrent to facial recognition surveillance and identification systems. Firms and governments are now trying to circumvent this issue through novel technologies using Artificial Intelligence.
Israeli tech firm, Corsight AI has used AI and machine learning to come up with technology that can identify faces hidden behind face-shielding apparel such as goggles, plastic shields or masks. Awz Ventures, the Canadian venture-capital firm focusing on security and intelligence technologies, realizes the potential and has poured $5 million into Corsight AI for platform marketing and research.
So, what purpose does this mask-penetrating recognition system serve? It processes information captured on surveillance cameras and may be used to issue alerts about people violating requisite quarantine measures, or those going outdoors without adequate protection.
Thus, it also serves the key purpose of accelerating isolation procedures for those who might have come in close proximity of a Corona-positive individual within an organisation implementing the system. Given its far-reaching potential, Corsight AI has already been used to install permanent systems in several Asian cities, European airports and hospitals, African banks and mines and South American police departments and border crossings.
There has, however, been severe global criticism. Many perceive the use of such tracking software as a threat to privacy and other civil liberties – with movements being continuously tracked by higher authorities. Governments, however, have insisted on the prudence of using such technologies to help meet the demands of the current situation.
Naturally, many firms have seized this narrative to suggest government investment in their facial recognition software as a must in the time of a pandemic. The benefits are slated to go beyond just immediate health concerns, with hints of it being used for better crowd management and up-gradation of transportation systems also coming to the fore.
To see, or not to see, that is the question!