SenseTime develops biometric identification system for masked faces as Chinese companies adapt to crisis
The Coronavirus outbreak is providing challenges for Chinese authorities that may also be opportunities for biometrics companies like SenseTime and Megvii, as shown by a Reuters report. SenseTime has reportedly developed a facial recognition system that can identify individuals wearing face masks, and Megvii has developed a system that integrates thermal cameras for temperature detection and body and facial-image data to locate the subject’s forehead.
The increased use of face masks has previously been reported to present a major challenge to China’s extensive public facial recognition system.
Megvii’s system was built with support from multiple government ministries, and is being tested in Beijing. SenseTime plans to deploy its system to building entrances.
Dahua also says it has developed a technology capable of detecting fevers with 0.3 degrees Celsius with infrared imaging.
The report details the use of public facial recognition and other tracking systems to identify and monitor people who may carry Coronavirus, as authorities attempt to contain the outbreak. Facial recognition and license plate readers are among technologies used to monitor people who have been exposed to the virus, and who fail to follow quarantine recommendations. Mobile data is also used to keep track of where people have been, and may soon be used by consumers to show their past whereabouts to authorities or employers, according to the report.
Flight and train data are scraped and analyzed, and Japan Times reports that a system developed by Baidu is live at the Qinghe rail station, scanning travelers to perform facial biometrics and take their temperatures. If a fever is detected, the system alerts station staff.
The Japan Times notes that Megvii’s system is deployed to a Beijing subway station. A spokesperson for Megvii told Japan Times that a team of nearly 100 has been working remotely throughout the Lunar New Year holiday to optimize the company’s models to detect temperature from just the exposed forehead of a subject.
Despite being included on the U.S. Entity List, sources recently suggested SenseTime’s facial recognition business is continuing to grow rapidly.
This post was edited at 10:54 am on February 13, 2020 to clarify that Megvii’s technology uses facial image data to take the subject’s temperature, not perform identification.