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Recognizing Vital Signs of the Future

NEC deciphers the faces of a healthier world to come

Tired of dealing with the long admission queues when visiting your loved ones at the hospital? Face recognition (FR) might just be your remedy. It may sound like a pipe dream but the usage of FR in smart healthcare has been in the works for many years. Researchers forecast that it is about to outperform other biometric modalities due to its growing list of use cases, enabled by its ability to support contactless actions.

Bolstered by this support, the FR market is expected to new window grow to $19.3 billion by 2032, up from $5.1 billion in 2022. An increasing suite of applications like personalized healthcare, early interventions and remote patient monitoring all stand to benefit from this advancement, possibly contributing to patients’ longer life expectancy.

Fostering an inclusive society with world class biometrics

As a dominant player in the biometrics market with 50 years of industry-leading knowledge, we have endeavored to transfer our expertise to digital transformation in healthcare for the benefit of mankind. These innovations include our creation of scalable children fingerprint systems for vaccine disbursement in 2019, making us the first vendor worldwide to do so. Working together with our alliance partners, we hope our fingerprint authentication technology can deliver more vaccines to the children in developing countries who need it most. 

Apart from fingerprint authentication, our expertise in face recognition technology has also been given industry accreditation. With an outstanding tolerance of poor quality and conditions, NEC’s face recognition technology has been independently tested by NIST and certified as the world’s most accurate, several times across various industry benchmarks

The technology’s creator Hitoshi Imaoka recently presented his latest innovation, a mobile device based face and facial parts monitoring system at a consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas. Even after two decades of working in the FR industry, Imaoka shared his delight at creating a system “that is easy and can be used to share health information remotely”.  Utilizing NEC’s AI image recognition technology, the system takes just 10-60 seconds to analyze pupil movements and facial patterns, the award-winning system can take several key health measurements, including pulse rate, oxygen levels, and respiratory rate. This could be a transformative tool for elders, who may not be as receptive to wearable technology, and may even relieve them from having to seek round-the-clock professional medical assistance.

To make that future possible, a strong social security infrastructure is essential to empower citizens with equitable access to quality healthcare. This allows state authorities to include them in smart healthcare and financial services, ensuring a more inclusive society for everyone.

Creating happier and healthier citizens with digital transformation

In 2021, NEC partnered with a hospital in Thailand to upgrade its registration process with a contactless face recognition system. The inclusion of such technologies helps to reduce registration response times and staff burden, enabling medical teams to administer treatment “more quickly in a safer environment.” More recently, NEC Asia Pacific collaborated with Singapore’s Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS) to enhance visitor registration. The new Face Recognition Automated Visitor Management System (FRAVMS) allows guests to pre-register remotely before their arrival, saving 10 minutes for up to 300 daily visitors and improving staff operations.

Venturing beyond operational efficiency and location security, researchers in Japan have also honed in on personal health and self-care. Partnering a Japan-based academic institution, the NEC team developed a first-of-its-kind technology that uses AI to detect edema (swelling) in facial images. Facial changes due to edema are often minimal and vary from person to person, but this innovation enables dialysis patients to gauge their individual degree of affliction to an 85% accuracy during a test demonstration. With further data collection and a more robust estimation model, the technology could be a reliable alternative to traditional weight measurement.
Being able to deliver digital revolutions is also at the forefront of our research and development efforts. This was the cornerstone of our participation in the Aadhaar Program, a national identification system in India that aims to provide residents with a unique identity. Utilizing multi-modal biometrics like fingerprints, face images and iris images, our solution distinguishes more than 1.3 billion Indian citizens, making this one of the largest national identification systems worldwide. With regular updates to the technology, we hope this will become a digital platform for Indian nationals to authenticate themselves anytime, anywhere for equal access to public services.

Empowering individuals for a future of self-help

As the possibilities of face recognition diversify, we hope to give individuals the power to take charge of their own health. Not only do we leverage the technologies to transform their clinical environments, we also hope to educate them to manage their own medical statuses. 

On one hand, this helps to reinforce the sustainability of healthcare systems around the region, by relieving the stress on overstretched staff and optimizing resources. Patients are given the authority to take advantage of innovations such as mobile based smart healthcare systems to improve self-detection of health issues and monitor their well-being. At the same time, this decentralization of healthcare management also makes its services more inclusive and accessible to people across the region. Up-to-date government and private healthcare initiatives can be cascaded to the entire population through digital means, regardless of the remoteness of their location.

Uncovering the future of biometric technologies

Smart healthcare is just one of the many sectors that our industry-leading technologies can deliver a huge impact on. As we look towards the future of smart cities with other applications like digital government and smart mobility, what other possibilities await us and our potential partners?

February 19, 2024