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Israeli military-grade biometric facial recognition works with face masks



Advanced biometric facial recognition technology developed for Israeli law enforcement and intelligence agencies to capture escaping criminals is now used to identify healthcare professionals that need to wear medical face masks for protection, writes The Jerusalem Post.

The technology was built by Corsight, a subsidiary of Cortica, a company founded in 2007 by a group of researchers from Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. The company holds more than 250 registered patents in AI.

According to Ofer Ronen, head of homeland security at Cortica, the anti-terror technology can be successfully used to identify people now that the coronavirus crisis has made masks mandatory.

“The idea is that face recognition will replace many surfaces that require physical touch,” he told the publication. “For example, opening doors in offices, fingerprint timestamps, or for doctors wearing masks who touch door handles when they need to go from room to room, which we now understand is one of the main ways to transfer disease.”

For accurate recognition, the algorithm needs less than 50 percent of the face to be visible, the company says. It identifies people from an elevation of up to 60 degrees, even in low-level light.

Ronen believes people will from now on be more interested in contactless technology, so facial recognition will be a replacement for many systems once the pandemic is over. The technology has been deployed by homeland security, for fraud prevention and in automotive visual intelligence. In September 2019, Cortica released an automotive visual platform following a collaboration with Continental, Toyota and BMW.

“There are so many face recognition companies worldwide and everyone is trying to get further ahead and push the technology limits more and more. It is like the Cold War,” Ronen said. “The core technology is ready to be rolled out through global partners. The idea is that our face recognition engine will be a component in as many platforms as possible worldwide.”

Face mask popularity has led many biometric companies to updating their solutions for enhanced accuracy when masks cover the lower half of the face. In March, SAFR reported its biometric recognition algorithm adapts to work with masks, and similar announcements have been made by Innovatrics, Speech Technology Center, NEC, Telpo, Alibaba, ZKTeco USA, SenseTime, Herta, and Hanvon.

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