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Facial recognition adopted for Rugby World Cup

A facial recognition system developed by NEC Corp. will be adopted for checking the entry of journalists during the 2019 Rugby World Cup (played under rugby union rules). Scanning technology will be in place at both the Tokyo Stadium in Chōfu (where the opening game is set to take place) and International Stadium Yokohama, located in Kanagawa, which is host to the final game of the tournament.

The NEC Corporation is a Japanese multinational provider of information technology services and products, headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The company has been developing facial recognition technology, seeing the method of processing images of human faces as being easier than other forms of biometric analysis (although the company also has fingerprint recognition technology at its disposal). One reason is because face recognition has distinct advantages because of its non-contact process.

The company’s NeoFace technology has an advantage over other systems because it can work well with low resolution facial images, including images with low resolutions down to 24 pixels between the eyes. NEC’s face recognition technology utilizes the ‘Generalized Matching Face Detection Method’ which is based on a special algorithm that searches and selects face area candidates after the generation of potential eye pairs.

Entry into the exclusive areas of the stadiums will be through a combination of identification cards, which will be used by media organizations, and facial image recognition for those sports journalists who have registered in advance. According to Japan Times, the facial recognition system will complete the authentication instantly. The technology will not be extended to other stadiums this time around, with conventional visual identification checks remaining in place.

NEC expects the system will enable faster and easier entry compared with any process involving visual checks. The application of the facial recognition technology represents the first use of a face recognition system at a Rugby World Cup.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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