Japan’s NEC Corporation has improved its facial recognition technology with the development of a new face recognition engine that provides high-precision certification even when masks are worn.

According to NEC’s internal evaluation, the new engine confirmed a high recognition accuracy, with a rate of over 99.9 per cent in 1:1 testing, regardless of the colour of the mask and any pattern printed on it.

The new engine is specially designed to identify subjects wearing face masks. It focuses on areas surrounding an individual’s eyes that are not covered by masks to extract and analyse characteristics.

“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 face.

“Once this engine detects the presence of the 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,” said NEC.

NEC also added:

“The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 has had a major impact on people’s lives and economic activities. As part of this, governments around the world are encouraging the use of face masks as a basic measure to combat infections under the new normal.

“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.”