Business / Tech

Japanese firms develop contactless technologies to tackle pandemic

Kyodo

Contactless technologies have come into the spotlight amid the spread of the new coronavirus as people have become more conscious of the risks of infection from touching doorknobs and buttons.

While wearing face masks has become commonplace, Glory Ltd., a money-changer manufacturer, has developed an advanced facial recognition technology that is capable of distinguishing a face even when covered by a mask.

Glory, based in Hyogo Prefecture, said it envisions using the new technology for walk-through entry control at offices, for example.

The technology detects the shape of each person’s eyes, forehead and nose — the area that is not usually covered by a mask — with the support of artificial intelligence and then confirms their identity, it said.

The company said it will put the new product on sale in June at a suggested retail price of ¥2.2 million ($20,600).

Glory’s recognition systems have been used since 2003 at about 1,000 locations across Japan, including in hospitals, supermarkets and nursing care facilities.

Sensor maker Optex Co. has produced a contactless control button to open and close doors, a product it hopes will be used in food processing plants, hospitals and other places requiring high levels of hygiene.

Dubbed CleanSwitch, the product uses microwaves to recognize an individual’s hand, even in a glove, at a distance of 10 to 50 centimeters, according to the firm based in Shiga Prefecture.

Optex aims to sell 3,000 units, each priced at ¥66,000, this year.

“We would like to promote the product so we can help curb the new coronavirus as much as possible,” an Optex official said.

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