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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HB2: Ringo Starr cancels North Carolina concert
Ringo Starr has become the latest artist to cancel a planned show in North Carolina in protest against the US state’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, commonly known as House Bill 2 (HB2).
In a statement posted on his website, the former Beatles drummer says he cancelled his All Starr tour concert in Cary on 18 June in order to “take a stand against this hatred”. He adds: “Spread peace and love.”
HB2, also known as the ‘bathroom bill’, invalidates at a state-wide level several local anti-discrimination measures, and also compels transgender people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
“We need to take a stand against this hatred. Spread peace and love”
Last week Bruce Springsteen also cancelled an appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest against HB2, which critics have called discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Bryan Adams, meanwhile, earlier this week called off a show at Mississippi Coast Coliseum following the passing of a law in that state also widely criticised as being anti-gay, Bill 1523, which allows religious groups and some private businesses to refuse service to gay people and anyone who offends their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
Cyndi Lauper has also come out in opposition to HB2, announcing to ABC News that she donate all profits from her upcoming performance in Raleigh to Equality North Carolina’s campaign to repeal the law.
Springsteen, Bryan Adams first to cancel shows over anti-LGBT laws
Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams have become the first major touring artists to cancel concerts in protest against new ‘anti-gay’ laws in some southern US states.
Canadian singer-songwriter Adams (pictured) has called off his 14 April show at Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi following the signing into law of Mississippi bill 1523, which allows religious groups and some private businesses to refuse service to gay people and anyone who offends their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
Adams said he can not “in good conscience” perform in a state where “certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation”.
New Jerseyan Springsteen cancelled an appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sunday in protest against the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which has also drawn condemnation from Barack Obama, American Airlines, PayPal, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the states of Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington, which have banned non-essential travel to North Carolina for public-sector employees.
Adams said he can not “in good conscience” perform in a state where “certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation”
The law invalidated at a state-wide level several local anti-discrimination measures, and also requires transgender people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
In addition to negatively affecting the live music sector, the North Carolina law is already forcing major sporting events out of the state: National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver announced yesterday that the city of Charlotte will no longer be allowed to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game as, “with this new law in place, Charlotte currently does not have any anti-discrimination protection in place, something that would be vital for a large event such as the All-Star Game”.
Springsteen’s decision to cancel was called a “bully tactic” by North Carolina congressman Mark Walker. “It’s like when a kid gets upset and says he’s going to take his ball and go home,” Walker, a Republican, told The Hollywood Reporter.