SAFR from RealNetworks Inc.’s facial recognition platform for live video has been selected as the technology provider to support the Japanese government’s evolution from paper documents to digital “My Number” ID cards with a face-based authentication infrastructure. Part of a larger digital transformation, My Number cards represent a new digital identification system designed to streamline and expand access to government services for Japanese citizens and residents.

The solution will be rolled out to hundreds of thousands of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies over the next two to three years. The My Number card reader provides online confirmation that supports My Number insurance cards together with facial recognition authentication supplied by SAFR. Certified systems integrator Nextware developed the card reader integration using SAFR’s lightweight and accurate facial recognition algorithm. SAFR was chosen because of its speed, precision, and low bias with regard to skin tones, age, and gender.

“In developing a card reader with face recognition to be used for online authentication, we needed the best facial recognition system available,” said Takayoshi Toyoda, president and CEO of Nextware. “SAFR enables high-precision face recognition with little variation in authentication accuracy across gender, age and race based on its deep learning of about 10 million images. The availability of a device-embedded development kit enabled rapid development of the product.”

The initial rollout of My Number cards provides access to Japan’s universal healthcare system by allowing citizens to confirm their identity and medical information with specialized card readers and facial recognition features. As part of the new initiative, residents will no longer require multiple ID cards to access different government services. My Number cards contain an IC chip that stores a digital photo of the user. The My Number card reader reads the photo information and authenticates the user utilizing SAFR facial recognition, even if the user is wearing a mask.

The new initiative is expected to significantly reduce resources and costs associated with the administration of healthcare information while increasing convenience and access for all citizens and residents. The new digital system will also enable health providers to access accurate historical medical data reducing treatment time and avoiding costly errors.

“We are happy to announce that SAFR facial recognition technology has been chosen for this important digital transformation project by the Japanese government,” said Noriaki Takamura, vice president, APAC, SAFR. “Many facial recognition companies were considered, but SAFR’s excellent performance, high speed, small technology footprint and focus on privacy made it the ideal choice for this application.”