July 13, 2020

Facial recognition applied to social distancing, mask control

By Lucy Ingham

A facial recognition company has adapted its technology to detect compliance with Covid-19, giving it the ability to, among others, monitor social distancing and detect whether people are wearing a mask.

The company, Herta, is based in Barcelona, Spain, and has been awarded with the Covid-19 Response Seal of Excellence by the European Commission in recognition for its efforts in combatting the coronavirus.

facial recognition social distancing maskHow Herta is using facial recognition to support social distancing, mask wearing

In normal times, Herta provides facial recognition technologies to government, transport providers, the sport industry, gaming, finance and retail. However, it has expanded it technology to not only identify individual faces, but also determine if occupants of a space are complying with a range of different Covid-19 measures.

For social distancing, Herta’s crowd density application can monitor crowds and alert authorities if groups of people are standing too close together. Related is its occupancy control technology, which determines if a venue is too densely packed to comply with social distancing, and therefore not in compliance with local laws.

When it comes to mask compliance, Herta not only can identify if a person is wearing a face mask, but can also use its facial recognition technology to identify a person while they are wearing a mask. This is being marketed at organisations where security is particularly important, such as airports and retail businesses.

Facial recognition increasingly used for Covid management

Herta is one of a growing number of companies around the world that are harnessing facial recognition for Covid compliance.

However, there are concerns about the technology, which is often biased against people of colour.

There are also fears that the use of it by police, in combination with contact tracing data, can lead to abuse, with Brittany Kaiser, former Cambridge Analytica whistleblower and founder of the Own Your Data foundation, raising the alarm over the issue earlier this month.

Read more: Clearview AI under investigation by UK and Australian data regulators