The coronavirus outbreak has people around the world wearing masks, causing difficulties for facial recognition technologies that must become more efficient to survive, CNN reports.
“If the [facial recognition] companies aren’t looking at this, aren’t taking it seriously, I don’t foresee them being around much longer,” Shaun Moore, CEO of Trueface, which creates facial recognition technology that’s used by the US Air Force.
Tech5, a Swiss company that works with law enforcement, among other customers, told CNN that they’ve been working on facial recognition technology that can recognize partially concealed faces since before the pandemic, since partially or completely covering one’s face is common in some parts of the world, particularly southeast Asia.
Although facial recognition algorithms do have trouble dealing with masks, both Trueface and Tech5 have begun focusing their technology on the upper portion of the face.
“Masks have definitely caused us to rethink how we make our processes more efficient with the algorithms,” said Moore.
However, Clare Garvie of the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology warned that the less information the technology has to work with, the less reliable the results will be.
“I just see the misidentification risk vastly increases because they have less biometric to go off of,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how they tune the algorithm.”
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