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Wearing a Mask? No Problem – NEC Face Recognition Engine Provides Accurate Results
September 28, 2020 News


NEC Corporation has announced the strengthening of its face recognition technology, already recognised as the world’s most accurate, with the development of a new face recognition engine that provides high-precision certification even when masks are worn.

The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has had a major impact on people’s lives and economic activities. Governments around the world are encouraging the use of face masks as a basic measure to combat infections under the “New Normal” as part of this. In conjunction with this, there is a need for face recognition technologies to adapt, as they are widely used for personal identification purposes in mobile devices, workplaces, and a wide range of facilities.

NEC has an established history of developing face recognition technology that is compatible with face masks, but recently developed a face recognition engine that is specially designed to recognise subjects wearing face masks. Face recognition operates by extracting feature points, such as the position, shape, and size of a subject’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and matching and identifying detected faces. This engine focuses on areas surrounding an individual’s eyes that are not covered by masks to extract and analyse characteristics.

Once this engine detects the presence of a mask in a face image, the most appropriate facial recognition algorithm is used to extract and check the characteristics of each individual. This enables high-precision certification even when there is a mix of mask wearers and non-wearers.

NEC’s internal evaluation using this engine confirmed a high recognition accuracy, with a rate of over 99.9% in 1:1 verification when masks of various colours and patterns were worn.

NEC aims to begin sales of the new engine with products that include “NEC Enhanced Video Analytics,” which supports integrated solutions that combine face recognition with various image analysis functions, and “Bio-IDiom Services”, which utilise a variety of face and other biometric information to provide multi-modal biometrics solutions. These products and services are the functions of the “NEC DX Platform” for integrating biometrics, video analysis, AI, and security technologies while providing comprehensive services from applications to networks.

From the end of September at NEC headquarters, NEC plans to apply this engine for demonstration tests for a system that links face recognition and thermal cameras at walkthrough gates managing entrances and exits.

NEC will continue contributing to the revival of economic activities going forward, under the New Normal by providing solutions that utilise enhanced face recognition and help to promote public health, including entry and exit systems for companies, educational institutions, public facilities, commercial facilities, event venues, and theme parks.