ISSUE: Companies Start to Adjust to the “New Normal”

By: William Sikkens
Host, User Friendly 2.0  Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

As we all start to prepare for the post-COVID “new normal” technology is already playing a role.  Companies such as UBER are planning changes to ensure safety and social distancing.

UBER and ride sharing companies have always been innovative.  In fact the entire business model of a ride share service relies on apps and the ability to know who is where.  Security has always been an issue.  UBER uses a facial recognition system for their drivers that take a version of a selfie at random intervals.  This information is matched to ensure the driver is the correct person and that nothing unusual is happening.

With the need for social distancing and masks, the technology’s capabilities are being tested.  China has already developed surveillance systems that can “see” through masks and we will be seeing these upgrades coming to most facial recognition systems.


Most facial technology recognition systems continue to become more powerful.  Good or bad these systems will continue to become part of our lives.

Uber revolutionized ride sharing with their ability to allow drivers to work part or full time and on their own schedule using this technology.  Safety is worked into their tech for both drivers and passengers.  With the ability for facial recognition to “see” through a mask these technologies are being updated.

Facial recognition can work around a mask by having enough points of comparison to identify an individual with just the part of their face that is exposed.  A point of comparison is a point on one’s face that the software can use to cross reference with data.   An example of reference data would be when you get a picture taken for an ID or driver’s license and that information is saved.  When you cross pass a camera with facial recognition it compares that image to the existing information.    If you want to dive in deeper this is a good paper on the subject.

The other concern is facial recognition with passengers and masks.   There are some privacy issues that UBER is considering when using recognition with passengers.  While there is no official statement from UBER,  it is common to record a ride.  COVID-19 is testing privacy vs technology and right now the use of technology for surveillance is popular.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw