2 min read

This year, in the FIFA World Cup researchers and scientists, tried to use Artificial Intelligence ( AI) to predict the outcomes of all 64 matches. That did not work out well, accounting to probability and human nature that cannot be predicted. Now we see another implementation of AI in a major global sports event. This time it’s not to predict outcomes, but to identify players with facial recognition.

In 2020, facial recognition will be used for the first time widely in an Olympic event to identify athletes. The Japanese IT firm NEC Corp will provide the facial recognition system. The facial recognition system will also be used in the 2020 Paralympics;  it was tested in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The system is built around an AI engine called NeoFace. In addition to athletes, the system will be used to identify volunteers, media, and other staff. It will be used to identify around 300,000 people across more than 40 venues.

The Olympics will begin on July 24, 2020. People attending the event are expected to submit their data in advance before the Olympics start. It will be approved and stored in a database and used to identify players before entry.

The system will link the person’s facial data with an IC card that will be carried by them. So entry would be permitted only if the facial data stored in the database matches the data stored in the IC carried by the person.

Tokyo 2020 has security challenges since venues are not that large. This will result in long wait times before the players can get into the venues. With the summer heat in Tokyo, this presents a problem for the players. The events will be spread out across the metropolitan area, and people will have to authenticate themselves at every entry.

The NeoFace system is introduced to address these problems in the Tokyo Olympics venues. The facial recognition system is aimed at strengthening security and minimizing waiting times for athletes. NeoFace will also help with identifying forged ID cards and help athletes avoid the stress of waiting in long lines for identification.

NEC has substantial experience in the facial recognition field and their technology has been used at airports for several years. The Tokyo Olympics 2020 may be the Olympics event with most security implemented yet.

For more information, you can check out the coverage by Reuters.

Read Next:

Microsoft’s Brad Smith calls for facial recognition technology to be regulated

Amazon is selling facial recognition technology to police

Admiring the many faces of Facial Recognition with Deep Learning


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