The Russian facial recognition specialist NtechLab is expanding into the Middle East. The company has opened a new office in Abu Dhabi, from which representatives will market its products to potential customers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
NtechLab is best known for its controversial FindFace solution, an invasive app that gave everyday users the ability to match someone’s face to their profile on social media platforms like FaceBook and Twitter. The product drew the ire of privacy advocates, but proved to be extremely popular with the Russian government, which was interested in surveillance applications of the technology. Moscow’s Department of Technology deployed NtechLab’s tech in a massive city-wide surveillance system in January of 2020.
Privacy activists have tried to challenge the system in court, amidst growing concerns that the actual network is not secure. The system is supposed to be restricted to law enforcement, but a 2020 investigation found that regular civilians were able to pay a modest fee to conduct their own unregulated facial recognition searches.
The opening of the new Abu Dhabi office coincides with the release of NtechLab’s new FindFace Multi solution, which dramatically expands the utility of the original FindFace platform. FindFace Multi is designed for use in surveillance systems, and supplements facial recognition with people counting and object recognition capabilities. In that regard, the system can be configured to watch for specific objects on live video feeds, while the vehicle recognition feature can sort cars by make, model, and color in addition to tracking license plates.
With regards to humans, the system can identify people based on their silhouette, and track someone’s movements through a space based on factors like height and clothing color. It can also count the number of people that pass through a given area, which can be valuable information for city planners and commercial developers. The platform’s facial recognition tool, meanwhile, can spot persons of interest and identify people who are wearing masks.
Source: Gulf Business
August 16, 2021 – by Eric Weiss