Credit: ShutterstockEditor's note: This article was originally published on 9/11/19 at 9:38 a.m. PT. It was updated on 9/13/19 at 8:45 a.m. PT to include comment from Intel.
Intel this week announced that NEC Facial Recognition will power a tool called NeoFace at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The company said it will use a Core i5 processor (the generation wasn't mentioned) to scan the faces of an estimated 300,000 people at the stadium once the games kick off in July 2020.
NeoFace will be used to "identify over 300,000 people at the games, including athletes, volunteers, media and other staff for entry points of venues and accommodations," Intel said. The goal is to "prevent risks related to identification fraud," while also "reducing long wait times for ID checks."
It's early to tell, but this could be among the less controversial uses of facial recognition in public venues. The people Intel listed already have to be photographed to obtain ID badges. Using facial recognition to identify those people instead of manually checking those badges is mostly a matter of convenience.
Other uses of facial recognition can be far more invasive. (Or at least creepier.) Companies have demonstrated billboards that customize their appearance based on the people viewing them, for example, and activists have opposed the U.S. government's use of facial recognition.
That doesn't mean NeoFace can't be questioned, though. In its announcement, Intel didn't say how it plans to secure data processed by the tool, what happens to that data when the 2020 Summer Olympics end or to whom it will be available. However, we reached out to Intel, which clarified that while NeoFace will run on its Core i5 technology, Intel won't have any role in operating the facial recognition tool. A company spokesperson told us that Intel "will not have access to any of the data from the system" and directed us to NEC (we'll update this story if NEC gets back to us).
In response to our questions, Intel also offered a statement regarding artificial intelligence (AI):
"At Intel we believe that AI systems should give clear notice and provide the opportunity for real and informed consent for the collection and use of personal information. Intel will continue to adhere to our privacy policies and agreements in the collection, aggregation, use, storage and transmittal of personal data through AI systems."
Intel's contributions to the 2020 Summer Olympics won't be limited to NeoFace. The company will also use Intel True VR to offer immersive versions of several events, its artificial intelligence composed the official "beat" for the games and its hardware will power Cisco's networking equipment at the show.