Facial recognition technology is no longer a foreign concept to the public. Smartphones, social media sites and other commercial industries have been implementing this in recent product updates. While these are more consumer-related, facial recognition for large applications related to security and access will make its big debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Tokyo Games will be welcoming athletes, volunteers and staff in a new way, using the same facial recognition methods to keep events safe and manage crowds. The technology is not necessarily new, but the application is. Tokyo-based NEC Group built the system on an artificial intelligence (AI) engine called NeoFace, which is part of the company’s biometric authorization tools. With this new technology, the goal is to more effectively manage security.

How It Works

Photo data will be linked to an IC card issued to those that need access or authorization. NEC boasts it has the leading facial recognition based on benchmark data. When the face is recognized, the line moves faster, granting access to those who need it.

New Security Challenges Emerge

One big difference between Tokyo 2020 and previous Olympiads is that there is no single Olympic Park that offers access to many events. Typically, host cities have central campus that allows different parties to move from venue to venue. In Tokyo, there will multiple locations, putting a strain on security resources. With the facial recognition project, this should speed up security lines, permitting only those known faces to access the area.

Tokyo Will Be Important Test for the Technology

Testing has indicated that the system works as expected. With less than two years to go until the events, NEC still has time to adapt as needed and continue the quality assurance process.

Many in the industry are looking at what happens in Tokyo as a significant test for the technology. If it delivers, this is sure to spur more innovation and adoption. If facial recognition proves itself to be a way to enhance security, people may soon be able to use their face to grant access to office floors in a skyscraper or even pay for groceries. The human face may be the most surefire security measure available soon.