An American study has shown that current facial recognition algorithms are powerful enough to identify people even if they are wearing masks.
This study was conducted by the US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over several months starting in spring 2020. While the first results coming in during the summer were rather poor, technology has considerably evolved to deliver reliable results. There was a 99% error rate in certain cases earlier.
The average error rate is currently around 0.3% without a mask and around 5% with one. In certain cases, masks can cover two-thirds of the face. Researchers concluded that the latest performance rate was comparable to where technology was in 2017 on photos of people without masks.
The results of this study are all the more positive as masks have become increasingly widespread since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is said to stay this way for at least a couple of months.
The good news is that facial recognition tools won’t suffer from the use of masks in the public sphere and will continue to be able to give reliable results.