North Carolina Stadium Working On AI Technology to Detect If Attendees Are Wearing Masks

technology to detect coronavirus

The Coronavirus has now been around and prevalent for over nine months, and it’s growingly becoming clear that it has no plans of being gone anytime soon.

Finally coming to terms with this fact, health agencies and governments around the world are stepping up to get innovative with ways around it. With a unique take on it, the University of North Carolina’s Reese Innovation Lab is turning to artificial intelligence to try their hand at helping to get things back on track.

With live events, musicals, sports, and basically any large gatherings at all being at a complete standstill, the Lab is attempting to use AI technology to arm a stadium to be able to detect if attendees are wearing masks and distancing. On October 10th, 2020, the Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina saw the very first AI-powered “Health Greeter Kiosks” by Reese Innovation Lab in partnership with Lenovo. Installed within each is large screens, depth-sensing cameras, which will use real-time anonymized data to determine whether or not attendees were wearing masks, and if they were social distancing. These kiosks are meant to ensure individuals are showing Covid-compliant behavior.

The screen will sound alerts to take corrective action if someone wasn’t wearing a mask or was too close to another person.

The kiosks were strategically placed at locations such as entrances, bag-check queues, and ticket offices. As reported by Lenovo stating that the kiosks were a success, they said it “worked as intended, tracking and encouraging safe behaviour.”

In an attempt to better understand human behavior while attending live events during the pandemic, Reese Innovation Lab’s Chief Innovation Officer Steve King, believes the company’s kiosks are the first step in designing new safety protocols. King went on to say,

“We needed real innovation to meet this unprecedented challenge, and pushing the limits of technology is at the core of our lab’s mission. Engineering a technological response to Covid-19 and event-attendance restarting is a real and rewarding challenge, [and] I’m grateful for the support of UNC-Chapel Hill leadership, our exceptional and inventive students, and Lenovo.”

As explained by King and IQ Mag(link – ), the kiosks, which usefully anonymized data, with no images saved or transmitted, may help shape safety protocol and provide insight on how crowds behave during the coronavirus pandemic.

He went on to explain the future uses of the technology by saying, “We see this as the starting point of wider deployment, with opportunities to refine and customize the technology. From campus hallways to outdoor events, these kiosks will help us better understand human behaviour and encourage safe behaviour, and I’m excited to see how we evolve and adapt to this AI-powered solution.”

While this technology and others like it help us inch closer to our return to live events, in the end, it will all come down to how attendees behave and how well they adhere to the Covid compliance rules.

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Melody Siganporia
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