SEATTLE, December 15, 2020 — The COVID-19 International Research Team and RealNetworks® (NASDAQ: RNWK), today announced a partnership to bring MaskCheck™ by COVID-19 International Research Team powered by SAFR® from RealNetworks to Android and iOS users worldwide. MaskCheck is a free face mask compliance app, service and data platform that helps communities and businesses operate and reopen with greater safety by encouraging and assessing face mask compliance.

The COVID-19 International Research Team is a highly-regarded global community of scientists driving research into COVID-19 using a large consortium open science model to efficiently and rapidly improve our understanding of COVID-19. RealNetworks, building upon its roots in video technology and leadership in SAFR computer vision, developed the MaskCheck computer vision-based solution to help gather real-time, accurate behavioral face mask compliance data.

“The first goal of COVID-19 International Research Team is to enhance public knowledge by cutting edge scientific research to reveal host infection dynamics for SARS-CoV-2 to ultimately improve medical treatment options for COVID-19 patients. In partnering with RealNetworks to distribute and encourage the use of MaskCheck to monitor and analyze face mask compliance, we are on our way to improving control of this pandemic,” stated Afshin Beheshti, PhD, Co-President of the COVID-19 International Research Team.

“RealNetworks is honored to be working with the COVID-19 International Research Team to bring MaskCheck to market,” said Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks. “Together we believe that one of the fastest ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus is for everyone to simply wear a face mask. It is our joint hope that thousands of locations worldwide will soon quickly deploy MaskCheck. This will encourage use of face masks and provide data that will help municipalities and businesses understand what is actually happening in their locations and communities, will inform both private actions and policy making, and will help make the world safer.”

On November 10th, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a scientific brief that “recommends community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.” On December 4th, the CDC made an even stronger argument for the “universal use of face masks in indoor (non-household) settings”. The COVID-19 International Research Team and RealNetworks both believe that mask compliance is an essential part of helping our communities lower COVID transmission and stay safer.

What is MaskCheck?

  • An app for iOS and Android devices: The free, easy to install app uses artificial intelligence to assess face mask compliance, encourages proper usage, and reports aggregated and non-personally identifiable information (non-PII) based mask compliance data. It detects faces as people walk past the tablet’s camera, and determines if they are wearing a mask (properly) or not. It provides visual feedback to encourage compliance. No interaction is required, and no images or PII are collected or saved.
  • A public health data repository service: The back-end infrastructure aggregates anonymous data submitted by a growing network of MaskCheck enabled devices and/or closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. The data includes compliance based on geographic location, classification of location, and non PII-based demographic information.
  • A visualization map and data platform:  The frequently updated mask compliance data feed can be used by any and all concerned parties under a free creative commons license, accessed via APIs by anyone in the world. This dynamic dataset is also visually represented via live dashboards in our MaskCheck Map at: https://freemaskcheck.com/maskcheck-map/. Its content will continue to grow in tandem with MaskCheck deployment. 

This video shows how MaskCheck works: https://bit.ly/AboutMaskCheck

Why MaskCheck now?

At present, there is no reliable measured accurate and regularly updated data on mask compliance. Current sources are self-reported often through social networks resulting in likely biased, inaccurate, and quickly obsolete results. MaskCheck solves this problem and provides a unique behavioral data platform for:

  • Policymakers and public health officials who can now take advantage of reliable data as more state governors enact mask mandates
    • Develop an understanding of usage and enforcement with real-time data through dashboards and APIs
    • Inform decisions for actions and resource deployment such as PPE or education efforts where they will be most impactful and needed
    • Augment spread prediction models with behavioral, real-time, location and trendable data
    • Share the data with the public to encourage reopening where compliance is high 
  • Employers and business owners who can provide safer workplaces for employees and customers:
    • Create a more engaging way to encourage mask usage in the workplace and in retail spaces
    • Improve the safety and physical well-being of employees without compromising business operations.
    • Share compliance data with employees and customers to encourage engagement and patronage
  • The general public who can get access to better information and make informed decisions
    • Keep up to date with local community alerts along with risk indicators, to be able to make smarter, safer decisions regarding which areas or businesses to avoid.

Use Cases for MaskCheck

  • Municipalities
  • Public Transportation
  • Schools
  • Private Businesses (offices, stores, banks, restaurants)
  • Hospitals
  • (Indoor) Sporting Events
  • In-person Conferences at Convention Centers, Hotels
  • Homeless shelters

How does MaskCheck fit into the COVID-19 International Research Team’s platform to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

  • One of the goals for the COVID-19 International Research Team is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through raising public awareness and knowledge. MaskCheck is aligned with this goal to allow the public, institutions, schools, and businesses to have the best policies in place to increase mask compliance to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Another goal is to provide free resources and tools that can benefit society as a whole and provide a real impact with dealing with pandemics, such as COVID-19. MaskCheck will be a free tool that will allow the general public to deal with pandemics such as COVID-19.
  • Lastly, by bringing awareness of proper COVID-19 protocols for the public to follow, MaskCheck will allow ordinary citizens and the scientific community to unite for one common goal: to help end this pandemic quickly and prepare for future pandemics.

AVAILABILITY 

MaskCheck™ is immediately available as a free App for Apple and Android devices in the Apple iOS App and Google Play stores. Additional information can be found at: https://www.cov-irt.org/MaskCheck/.

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About COVID-19 International Research Team

The COVID-19 International Research Team is a community of scientists driving research into COVID-19 using a large consortium open science model to efficiently and rapidly improve our understanding of COVID-19, identify potential therapeutic targets for the disease, and develop a safe and effective vaccine. In addition to expanding scientific knowledge, the COVID-19 International Research Team provides COVID-19 tools and resources to the public to assist with mitigation of COVID-19 spread and raise public knowledge on avoiding further spreading COVID-19. This interdisciplinary group from over 75 institutions worldwide is coordinating projects focused specifically on SARS-CoV-2. For more information, visit: http://cov-irt.org.

About RealNetworks  

Building on a legacy of digital media expertise and innovation, RealNetworks has created a new generation of products that employ best-in-class artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance and secure our daily lives. SAFR® (safr.com) is the world’s premier facial recognition platform for live video. Leading in real-world performance and accuracy as evidenced in testing by NIST, SAFR enables new applications for security, convenience, analytics, and powers MaskCheck™ (freemaskcheck.com), as well as StarSearch™ by Real® and RealPlayer® 20/20 (real.com). For more information, visit: www.realnetworks.com.

Media Contacts: 

Lisa Amore, Amore PR for RealNetworks. Work: 202-506-3056; Mobile: 206-954-8006. lisa@amorepr.com Afshin Beheshti, PhD, Co-President for COVID-19 International Research Team. Mobile: 617-308-2540. afshin.beheshti@cov-irt.org