2020 Tokyo Olympics facial recognition tech will scan thousands of faces

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will heavily rely on facial recognition technology for security purposes, according to sources who say the tech will ultimately scan up to 400,000 faces during the event. The technology will be primarily used for getting athletes and journalists to their destinations quickly, the sources claim, with the overall system making it more difficult for stolen or forged credentials to be used for access.

The information comes from sources speaking to The Japan Times, which says its sources are close to the Olympics organizing committee. The facial recognition system is primarily being pushed out of terrorism concerns, the sources claim, but may have the added benefit of reducing wait times. Whereas an identification card can be stolen or forged, a face can't trick a system trained to recognize it.

Individuals "involved with the games" will be given special ID cards with facial images, according to the sources; this will include journalists and other media personnel. Facial recognition systems will automatically scan their faces as they enter related facilities, comparing the faces to images that are on file. If a face doesn't match, it'll trigger a warning that would lead to further investigation by officials.

NEC's facial recognition technology will be used, according to the sources; the company's technology is also being used by a California burger chain to recognize loyal customers. The system is said to be very accurate, capable of identifying individuals even if, for example, they have an identical twin. The system can also spot someone who has had plastic surgery.

Japan is no stranger to facial recognition tech, having recently introduced it at gates for screening passengers at a Tokyo airport. The technology remains a controversial one, however, as many people worry about its implications as far as privacy is concerned, as well as the security of their facial ID data.

SOURCE: Japan Times