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MLB Plans Using AI to Spot Mask-Less Fans in Games

Sam Arnold

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MLB Plans Using AI to Spot Mask-Less Fans in Games

Professional sports in the US continue to face challenges in their restart amid COVID-19. For their reboot, the National Basketball Association (NBA) sent its teams to play in a bubble in Orlando, Florida. Fans couldn’t watch the games, which eliminates the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball (MLB) continues to play in stadiums, but without fans. But as they plan to welcome fans again, the league is planning to use cameras to spot mask-less fans in the stadiums.  

Fan Welcome from the MLB

Engadget reports that the MLB is in talks with Airspace systems, a startup, about using AI to spot mask-less fans during games. The company has used AI software to identify drones near airports and stadiums. For baseball, the MLB believes they can repurpose Airspace’s AI programs for detecting face masks.

MLB and Airspace AI

Also, Engadget says that Airspace has tested its software, which spotted face masks in security footage with 80% accuracy. Bloomberg adds that Airspace’s systems study security camera video to figure out “hot zones” where people don’t wear masks. The company plans to let the MLB decide how to handle offenders.

For privacy concerns, Airspace CEO Jaz Banga said fans don’t have to worry about a thing. Banga said their software blurs faces. Moreover, Banga said they don’t know how to do facial recognition in the first place. 

MLB Adapting to Zero Fans

Currently, MLB is trying out several options to recreate the live fan experience during games. Stadiums are installing cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats, while TV companies are using the Unreal Engine to render virtual fans. 

The MLB is still wary of enforcing mask rules at the risk of sparking political controversy.

Arnold is a senior British tech reporter at Tekrati. Before joining Tekrati, Arnold worked as an editor for his University Newspaper, writing sharable content for a student audience. Sam loves movies, running, and anything written by Oliver Sacks. The drink he chose is tea, which he does not recommend in large quantities.

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