SAFR rollout buoys RealNetworks’ Q2 results amid broadening facial recognition application

RealNetworks has reported revenue of $44.2 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2019, and strong early success for its SAFR biometric facial recognition facial recognition software. Revenues were up from $39.5 million in Q1, despite the first quarter results being buoyed by a $1.5 million one-time gain from the acquisition of Napster.

Revenue from businesses other than Napster grew from $15.2 million in Q1 to $15.6 million, and overall revenue jumped from $15.7 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Gross profit margin increased to 38 percent from 37 percent in the previous quarter, and RealNetworks recorded a net loss of $9.2 million, or $0.24 per share, down from a net income of $1.5 million or $0.04 per share in Q1 and a net loss of $6.9 million or $0.18 per share a year earlier. Adjusted EBITDA loss was $6.3 million, compared to $7.9 million in the previous quarter and $5.8 million in Q2 2018.

In addition to its biometrics business and Napster, RealNetworks launched its second free-to-play video game, Delicious World, in the second quarter.

“In the second quarter, we achieved solid results overall with two particularly strong areas: our SAFR Facial Recognition platform and our free-to-play casual mobile games,” said Rob Glaser, Chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. “SAFR bookings were up significantly quarter-over-quarter. SAFR also continued to shine technically, retaining its position in the NIST ratings as the fastest and smallest of the most accurate Facial Recognition Systems.”

The company is expecting revenue in the $43 million to $46 million range in the third quarter, and an EBITDA loss in the $2.5 million to $5.5 million range.

SAFR for Security was launched by RealNetworks in April to integrate the facial recognition platform with leading video management systems.

Integrations of facial recognition and artificial intelligence with security cameras continue to be applied to a widening range of scenarios.

Prison safety

Startup Wildfaces Technology has developed a video analytics product for Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department to detect suspicious behavior by inmates in the hopes of preventing violence and suicide, South China Morning Post reports.

The system is rule-based, rather than using deep learning, because of the lack of training data for the target behaviors.

More than 40 cameras were installed in a minimum security prison in February as part of a “smart prison” project, and the system is expected to be deployed to other facilities soon.

Wildfaces Technology Founder and Executive Director Ivy Li also runs AI and facial recognition company iOmniscient, which she founded in Australia 18 years ago, according to the report.

Cannabis shop security

Cannabis dispensaries are turning to biometric facial recognition and other computer vision technologies like license plate recognition to protect their businesses, which largely operate on an all-cash basis, Vice Motherboard reports.

The reluctance of banks to do business with marijuana companies, given the remaining federal ban on the drug, has made them a target for thieves, with Vice reporting 34 dispensary robberies in the first half of 2019 in Denver, Colorado alone.

Blue Line Technology is one of the companies serving the niche market for facial recognition, and says it deleted data after 48 hours.

Advocates, however, warn that the potential for bias in the technology risks false identification of customers as thieves. Cannabis Advising Partners Social Equity Coordinator Grayce Bentley also says the use of facial recognition on medical marijuana users could violate the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or other health privacy laws.

Casino intelligence

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has told casinos not to implement cameras, facial recognition, or other digital surveillance equipment unless it has been approved by the regulator, Bloomberg reports.

Local government and law enforcement have considered making facial biometrics mandatory for casinos in the Special Administrative Region of China, and Bloomberg reported in June that casino operators were using hidden facial recognition cameras, digitally-enabled poker chips and other tools to identify customers likely to lose the most money. The regulator then clarified that facial recognition is only allowed for security systems.

Taxi driver monitoring

Russian ride-hailing company Yandex.Taxi is implementing facial recognition from VisionLabs to force drivers to take a break when fatigued, according to Yahoo News.

Crashes in Moscow involving taxis jumped by 25 percent last year, prompting the State Duma to draft a law to regulate the industry.

A small device mounted to the windshield of the vehicle will identify exhausted drivers, based on signals like yawning, blinking, or slumping forward, and prevent them from taking more orders if necessary. Yandex has piloted the system in 100 cars, and plans to roll it out to several thousand soon.

Hotel check-in

Chengdu, China has launched a pilot program for people to check in to hotels with facial recognition via a phone application, rather than an ID card, Xinhua reports. The service has been used in 14 hotels and one bus station so far.

Local officials say the application can prevent the theft and fraudulent use of ID cards.

Vaping control

E-cigarette maker Juul has launched an Android app with facial recognition as part of a two-step background check for verifying the age of the user as part of its campaign to keep its products out of the hands of underage people, according to Engadget.

The app is paired with a smart Juul product, called Juul C1, through Bluetooth, and has launched in the UK following a trial in Canada. The company is also reportedly planning to launch vapes with Bluetooth connectivity internationally.

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