Accurately identifying flagged individuals with face coverings

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The opportunity for criminals to take advantage of COVID-19 face covering requirements presents a security challenge for commercial premises. The Face Recognition Company (FRC) is addressing that challenge with the addition of a new “unmasking” capability to its multi-camera face-recognition security system.

Designed for a wide range of commercial environments, from retail outlets and hospitals to sports arenas and hotels, the FRC system identifies and alerts about individuals on a watchlist – suspected shoplifters, for example. Optimised for ease-of-use by anyone from site managers to security staff, all alerting and management features are delivered via a simple mobile app.

The latest system upgrade enables the system to process partial information – taking visible information and other data from partially obscured features – to identify an individual. The new functionality does not require any changes to how users operate the system, which is now able to identify persons of interest from previous visitor data, whether they are wearing a mask or not.

“Face coverings are now likely to be part of our normal daily life for a long time to come – even after mandatory restrictions are lifted,” said Tim Noest, CEO, FRC. “Just a few months ago, a person entering a store with their face covered would have raised suspicion. Today, it’s the norm, and this presents real challenges from a security perspective. This new capability allows our system to identify the person behind the mask and help security staff operate more effectively in this new normal.”

The technical work required to address the challenge of partially obscured face recognition pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak, and has been performed using very large datasets from wide ranges of real-world cases in challenging environments. The upgrade ensures virtually the same level of accuracy as the current system, which is based on identifying unmasked individuals.

“In addition to this new functionality, we are also extending the capability of our system to alert security staff when people enter environments when not wearing a face covering,” added Noest. “Wearing a mask is now compulsory in many retail and public transport environments across the world, and we are providing businesses with an extra pair of eyes when it comes to ensuring that customers are following the rules.”