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AI-powered screens detect mask wearing at venue

A North Carolina stadium is using artificial-intelligence (AI) technology to monitor for Covid-compliant public behaviour, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, among fans arriving at the venue.

The 50,500-capacity Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, which is primarily used for American football, has installed ‘Health Greeter Kiosks’ to encourage anyone passing to wear masks and practice social distancing. The AI – specifically machine learning and computer vision – uses real-time data from a depth-sensing camera to detect if someone is wearing a mask and whether there is proper spacing between individuals. As people walk by the screens, a large display alerts them to either correct or continue their behaviour.

The technology was developed by the University of North Carolina’s Reese Innovation Lab, with support from Lenovo North America, and first deployed for an American football match (University of North Carolina vs Virginia Tech) on 10 October. The kiosks, which were placed at locations such as entrances, bag-check queues and ticket offices, “worked as intended, tracking and encouraging safe behaviour”, according to Lenovo.

“These kiosks will help us better understand human behaviour and encourage safe behaviour”

“We needed real innovation to meet this unprecedented challenge, and pushing the limits of technology is at the core of our lab’s mission,” says Steven King, chief innovation officer of Reese Innovation Lab. “Engineering a technological response to Covid-19 and event-attendance restarting is a real and rewarding challenge, [and] I’m grateful for the support of UNC-Chapel Hill leadership, our exceptional and inventive students and Lenovo.”

The kiosks, which use fully anonymised data, with no images saved or transmitted, may help shape safety protocol and provide insight on how crowds behave during the coronavirus pandemic, adds King.

“We see this as the starting point of wider deployment, with opportunities to refine and customise the technology,” he explains. “From campus hallways to outdoor events, these kiosks will help us better understand human behaviour and encourage safe behaviour, and I’m excited to see how we evolve and adapt this AI-powered solution.”


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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