Mask detection in line for possible call up to big league baseball, but without facial biometrics
A startup from California called Airspace has been in talks with several Major League Baseball teams about supplying mask detection technology but not facial biometrics as part of their measures for getting fans safely back into stadiums, Bloomberg reports.
The big-league baseball season has launched with a drastically reduced schedule, no spectators in attendance, and a range of other COVID-19 transmission prevention measures. Despite this, dozens of players and coaches have tested positive for the virus, leading to the cancellation of more games and the closure of ballparks.
Discussions with Airspace have involved a system for checking if people are wearing masks and doing so properly, though it is not known if the system may also be applied to players and team staff, or which teams held discussions with the company. The company’s technology scans faces, but the results are not personally identifiable, according to the report.
Airspace was founded in 2015 to provide security software for drones, and already counts some MLB teams as customers, as well as the U.S. army and some airports. The company has raised roughly $35 million in venture capital, and began hearing inquiries recently from customers whether its technology could be applied to public safety processes, like mask checks and social distance monitoring.
Deployed to existing security cameras, the system can identify areas where mask misuse is frequent, and organizations can respond in various ways, such as sending a person in a nurse’s uniform to the area with free masks, Airspace CEO Jaz Banga told Bloomberg.
Banga says Airspace’s algorithms were able to proper detect mask wearing with accuracy above 80 percent. Airports have expressed interest in the technology, though Banga declines to name them.
Airspace does not invite privacy concerns, according to Banga, as all faces are pixelated automatically by the software. As for biometric facial recognition, “We don’t even know how to do it,” he states.
The Korean Baseball Organization has been able to return fans to the stands, but only at 10 percent capacity, with mandatory masks wearing and distancing measures.