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The Road to Developing Face Recognition Technology: Challenges Faced by NEC Fellow Hitoshi Imaoka [2:26]

Movie script

After decades of dedication, determination, and countless hours spent in the research lab, the face recognition technology developed by NEC Fellow Hitoshi Imaoka and his team has flourished, an achievement that has lead to Imaoka receiving the "Medal with Purple Ribbon", Japan's highest academic honor, from the Emperor himself.

Imaoka's work has touched countless lives around the globe, becoming an indispensable tool for safety, security, and personalized customer experience.
But it wasn't an easy task.
In the beginning, face recognition technology was simply too primitive to be commercialized or practical.
At one point, the industry lost faith, and Imaoka's research group dwindled to just two people, including himself.
But Imaoka and his team never gave up. They spent innumerable days and months in the lab, perfecting its accuracy and speed.
Finally, when breakthrough was achieved, he faced another challenge: convincing the world that this was necessary technology.
At a critical briefing session for the media, he showcased the potential of this technology by having the system scan a photo of himself from his childhood. The system recognized him, leaving the audience in awe.

This moment was the catalyst. With the approval from NIST and competitors alike, Imaoka's innovation soon found itself in the global spotlight.

Today, NEC face recognition technology is contributing to the safety and security of societies across the world and enhancing customer experiences in countless applications with our valued customers and partners.

Thank you so much. I couldn't have done it without everyone's support
What is your dream?
Penetration of face recognition is still only about 10 to 20%. My dream is to live in a world where no one is even conscious of the word "face recognition" and that it is integrated as part of daily life.

NEC will continue to contribute to society, pushing the limits of innovation in the service of a better, safer, and more connected world.

Orchestrating a brighter world


NEC's face recognition technology is now used in various places across the world to provide safety, security, and new customer value. An endeavor that began decades ago, the path to make face recognition tech practical was paved with untold hardships. How has the effort paid off, and what social values are being created through this technology today? Learn all about NEC Fellow Hitoshi Imaoka and his R&D journey with his team that led him to win the prestigious Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2023.

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(December 21, 2023)