Not Wearing a Face Mask? Airline Surveillance Cameras Might Rat You Out

As airlines begin cracking down on fliers for not wearing a face-covering—even threatening to ban passengers who refuse to wear one—some carriers will be using new surveillance technology to identify people who are not complying with face mask requirements.

That’s according to tech companies that provide Artificial Intelligence-powered video detection solutions who spoke to Forbes magazine.

“Airlines are having a tough time allowing passengers to feel a level of comfort that it’s safe to fly,” said Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO of Motorola Solutions, whose face mask detection technology is also being embraced in verticals such as education and retail. “Airlines—at least the ones we have spoken to—are fully invested in actually enforcing mask-wearing in general. So they want to insist that not only passengers who enter the aircraft, but those who are in the waiting area before they board, do wear masks.”

Airlines and airports have been conflicted over several elements of dealing with the coronavirus, from who should be taking passenger temperatures to social distancing—or lack thereof now that American will be unblocking the middle seat and flying to capacity—to enforcing face masks.

“I can confirm that we’ve been having discussions with distributors that work with places like airports, hotels, restaurants and retail stores,” says Richard Carriere, senior vice president of global marketing for CyberLink.

The company’s facial recognition software kit, FaceMe, can detect not only whether an individual is wearing a face mask but whether it properly covers the mouth and nose. Motorola’s solution detects the real-time occupancy within a facility, how many masks are being worn and the social distance that is being maintained.

Airlines could then take the data and, for instance, make it transparent to the public with a digital bulletin board at an airline’s departure gate announcing that 77 percent of travelers in the lounge are wearing face masks and that 65 percent are following social distancing guidelines.

Said Saptharishi: “In that way, it gives both a social nudge and the data that would help a passenger make informed decisions.”

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