Fish and cows become facial recognition targets

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Fish and cows become facial recognition targets

NEC Australia has fielded customer requests to apply facial recognition technology to cows and fish but says it will focus on selling systems for gender recognition in retail environments and a DNA system due out at the end of the year.

The company reportedly was asked to come up with a solution for "cow recognition" that would allow a farmer to identify each animal when it comes in for milking.

"We also got asked by someone from the CSIRO if we could do fish counting," said Lance Heather, national manager of security solutions and biometrics within NEC Australia's business development office.

"We also had someone come in asking about fish recognition," said Glen Cameron, who works in technical sales of biometric solutions for NEC New Zealand.

"It can actually be done . Human facial recognition systems work with standard patterns so systems can be trained. It's just expensive to do these types of one-off applications."

NEC Australia will focus more attention on a portable DNA recognition system due out at the end of the year. Heather said it could help authorities quickly identify victims of disasters such as bushfires, using a mouth swab to collect their DNA and matching it to a database.

The company is also awaiting a localised version of a system used in Japan that can determine the gender and age group of people entering retail stores.

The system uses the information to trigger both age and gender-appropriate messages on in-store digital signage.

The system samples "thousands of faces" in order to build a database of characteristics to scan for.

"It's based on group estimates, so it's not really recognition per se," Cameron said.

NEC Labs in the United States is working on a Westernised version of the system.

There is no ETA on its readiness, according to NEC Australia, but it is understood the image capture part of the localisation process is completed.

It is unlikely Australian faces will need to be scanned specifically for the technology to apply here, Heather said. Rather, any systems rolled out here will rely on a database of American facial characteristics.

Heather also said that NEC is achieving success in the video analytics space, signing on the National Art Gallery in Canberra as a customer.

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