Japanese companies introduce contactless biometric solutions amid coronavirus fear

NEC office facial recognition with mask security gate

Aware of consumers fear of touching objects in public, Japanese companies have actively started researching and developing new biometric products aligned with current needs, writes Nikkei Asian Review.

Some companies are integrating advanced sensors in new products to enable a touchless economy. For example, NEC has developed security gates that identify people even though they have masks on, while Fujitec and Optex want to introduce hand signals in elevators and to open doors.

At first, the facial recognition technology in NEC security gates did not recognize people wearing masks, sunglasses and hats. To prevent people from touching their faces to remove masks, the new system at NEC’s Toyko headquarters lets people come and go without touching anything, and can also identify them if they are wearing masks, according to the report. The software analyzes the exposed features to look for similarities.

NEC will run tests to increase accuracy but the system could be market-ready in six months.

Fujitec introduced in April a new type of elevator that uses sensor technology to let people hold their hand near infrared sensors to choose which floor they want to go to, while Optex has created a switch for contactless door opening and closing. Toshiba Tec is also leveraging sensors to project menus on tables and take customer orders to get rid of tablets and paper menus.

Japanese companies represent almost half of the global sensor market, found the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, while Sony has over 50 percent of the global market share for CMOS sensors.

They do have some strong competition in the U.S. and Europe where semiconductor producers have a good portion of the market share. Swiss company STMicroelectronics develops facial recognition technology for smartphones and distance measurement sensors, Austrian chipmaker ams manufactures miniature sensors with infrared capabilties and Texas Instruments develops electrostatic sensors.

Korea-based UnionCommunity has reported a major sales increase for its contactless biometrics, while Swiss company Global ID has partnered with the Idiap Research Institute to develop a new contactless biometric offering for hospitals.

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