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China is battling with the deadly coronavirus as it gets more and more widely-spread. The current toll is at 1,874 deaths and 73,425 cases worldwide with China shouldering the most of the numbers.
Since the virus can spread through close contact with an infected person, the government has made it mandatory for its citizens to wear face masks when visiting public places such as shopping malls and public transport. However, with a population as dense as China’s, it is impossible to regulate if everyone is following the rules.
The Wuhan government has required all people in public places such as hotels, restaurants, cinemas, parks, shopping centers and on public transportation to wear masks to prevent the spread of the novel #coronavirus, according to an announcement made on Wednesday night. pic.twitter.com/2QEU2vR5H8— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) January 22, 2020
There’ve been cases where drones told people to wear their masks, Chinese children reported their parents to the police because they don’t wear their masks, and now, the country’s leading search engine Baidu has created an open-sourced an AI model to detect people not wearing face masks.
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The face-scanning model uses artificial intelligence to identify people in real-time who are not wearing masks or those who are wearing them incorrectly, Baidu says. Apparently, the AI was trained with 100,000 images to achieve a prediction accuracy of 96.5%, which is enough for the daily inspections.
This is great news since inspecting people who aren’t wearing masks in crowds is done manually, and thereby, extremely difficult. Detecting people who are risking the lives of others is especially important now with the end of the Lunar New Year holiday. Many workplaces have resumed working and the risk of catching the virus is still quite high.
Using such a tool can be useful with containing the virus, and prevent more people from becoming infected. However, more and more tech companies gaining access to people's faces remains an issue.