Facial recognition....even with a face mask

The most noticeable sign that we’re living in the midst of a global pandemic is the prevalence of face-masks, whether in shops, on public transport or even in schools. Facial recognition systems have been forced to adapt to this development and one tech firm claims they can provide accurate facial recognition with or without a mask.

But first, why can’t facial recognition systems work when you’re wearing a face mask. Let’s use Apple’s FaceID system as an example: current face recognition software like FaceID confirms a match by studying the features around an individual’s eye, nose, mouth and ears before comparing this to pre-existing data. Whilst wearing a face mask, two of these reference points are obscured. Apple’s latest software update developed a workaround patch that detects when the mouth and nose are covered before prompting the user to enter their passcode. However, as face masks will still be present for the foreseeable future, many tech companies are looking to find fixes, not mere workarounds, to this problem.

Enter the OneScreen GoSafe: developed by the San Diego-based tech firm OneScreen, this portable Android-based facial recognition scanner looks like a big smartphone on a special stand.


The difference with the GoSafe is the almost webcam-like device attached to the top of the “smartphone”. This is an IR module which measures one’s temperature - ensuring that someone with a fever doesn’t enter the location.

Facial recognition software works, like most things AI, with large data sets. The GoSafe has been designed to have people wearing face masks in the data set, to train the algorithm to recognise when people are wearing face masks. This technology can both be used to recognise someone even if they’re wearing a mask, but even more importantly, to recognise someone who isn’t wearing a mask. If this option is configured, the GoSafe shall flash a “no-go” red if it catches someone trying to enter without a face mask. The GoSafe technology is also trained to discern between a greater number of upper facial recognition points - those which wouldn’t be obscured when wearing a mask. All of this ensures that masks pose no problem to security.

Thumbnail from Getty Images and GoSafe picture from OneScreen themselves.

If you want to read further into the topic, this is a good place to start.