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Mandates disappear, but mask detection tech has left its mark –

During the high-end COVID-19 disaster, when mask obligations became commonplace both in general and in particular, technology vendors began selling products they said they could find out if someone was wearing a mask – or not. With the release of the press release and the bright protests, sellers attracted the attention of skeptical critics about the capabilities of the solutions and potential protection requests. Allied Market Research Expectations predicted that the market will be worth more than $ 1 billion by 2027.

Now, as a mask commands to elevate the countries of the world – if it is premature, sida Some health experts – the dust has started to settle. With the demand for mask detection technology gradually declining, the product has had a far-reaching impact on privacy and security, interviews with sellers suggest.

For example, Shaun Moore, manager of Trueface, said he did not see customers who had previously purchased Trueface mask detection technology reducing their use at any given time. Like many of the vendors that provide mask detection services, Trueface, acquired by the biometric security company Pangiam in 2021, has its origins in face recognition. The company began using camera imaging algorithms to produce more data, including license plate identification and object detection, before expanding its focus on biometrics.

“We have started developing both mask identification and ability to perform facial recognition a mask Around April 2020, after the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States Nearly 50% of our customers requested that we update our software. mask detection to programmatically tell their customers to lower it mask, ” Moore told TechCrunch by email. “We plan to continue mask recognizable and recognizable a mask on our part [product] in case it is needed again. ”

As regular readers of this site are well aware, facial recognition is the point of contention. While companies like Trueface claim that they are engaged only in the “responsibility” of technology delivery, recent history has been filled with examples of facial recognition violations, such as software created by Huawei and others to identify members of the targeted Uyghur minority. Numerous studies including the label Gender Shade The project also demonstrated facial recognition technology to be vulnerable to various biases, including gender, race, and ethnic bias. The police did several wrong strings of Black suspects based on the error of facial recognition.

Trueface declined to name customers who are currently using face detection masks and face recognition products, but the company hore received a contract from the U.S. Air Force to “ensure access to the base and safety.”

Motorola Solutions, another vendor that started offering mask detection tools during the epidemic, says that every customer who has purchased its Avigilon Control Center 7 (ACC7) software and essential equipment will still have access to it. free mask detection technology. (ACC7 is operated by Avigilon, a Canadian surveillance camera company acquired by Motorola Solutions in March 2018.) Motorola Solutions did not provide a list of customers when asked, but sida In NBC, Avigilon has once entered into agreements with school districts, police departments, and U.S. housing authorities

“[Our] ‘No Face Mask Detection’ is a visual-detection technology that is able to detect objects in the camera scene, classify them as human, and detect that the subject is not wearing a mask, “Motorola spokesman said. Solutions Elizabeth Skube told TechCrunch in an email. , the feature will be ready for customers to turn off or continue to use their decision. “

Like Motorola Solutions, Rhombus Systems, a provider of security systems based in Sacramento, California, began with face detection as part of its standard platform a few months ago (January 2021). Companies can use it to receive push notification notifications or emails whenever the system finds out someone is not wearing a mask, general manager Garrett Larsson told TechCrunch via email.

“We know we have a small number of customers, but it has never been a very common feature,” Larsson said in an email. “We do not have any immediate plans to enter the brand at sunset, but it is something we will be monitoring on a regular basis based on whether it looks like mask orders will return.”

A press release last October, Rhombus claimed to be counted among school districts, health care providers, city governments, and Fortune 500 companies and their customers.

Warning features such as those provided by Motorola Solutions and Rhombus are a source of concern for privacy experts, who are concerned that the technology will normalize many levels of protection – giving hiring managers to punish unwanted employees. Amazon popularly uses algorithms to calculate the output of warehouse workers at granular level, consuming workers more time away from barcode scanning or sorting of waste products.

Unfortunately, a year ago Amazon made a major breakthrough with the Distance Assistant technology developed by the company to monitor warehouse staff compliance with social media rules. The remote assistant is available for Amazon store managers to use, but is no longer needed, spokeswoman Barbara Agrait told TechCrunch by email, reflecting new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other vendors such as Montevideo, Uruguay-based Tryolabs own it have used these types of technologies in many public places, including brick and mortar shops. An AI consultant, Tryolabs has developed a mask detection product called MaskCam that produces statistics on the use of a mask in real time. Co-founder and COO Ernesto Rodríguez says interest has diminished over the past tragedy, but MaskCam has been unloaded at the Bozeman Montana airport in Belgrade, Montana to count passers-by and determine the percentage of passengers. mask.

“As interest in this particular solution diminishes, Tryolabs continues to focus on researching other problems based on the same basic technology. Models and technologies developed for this unique solution can be applied to other cases of use. , ” Rodríguez told TechCrunch by email. “The same libraries can be used and customized for other AI visual solutions, such as retail, to count the number of people entering or leaving physical stores, or the supply and demand of predictive maintenance situations. “

Operation was one of the topics defining the disaster where it applies to the technology industry, as evidenced by sales in face recognition temperature stores with unquestionable benefits (note the site search app). If not already clear, the review reveals that mask detection was a trojan horse in complex technology, including surveillance technology, the workplace and elsewhere.

Like the American Civil Liberties Union notes“General efforts to control and monitor COVID-19 will open the door to protection devices that will not be dismantled when the public emergency landing lands. Nagu We must ensure that the temporary COVID-19 data protection infrastructure is maintained. … to endure the effects of this catastrophe once a century. “

The need to identify a face mask – if it really was one – will eventually go away. But consumers who buy technology may be inclined to have less ethical goals.