Major League Baseball is taking steps to prepare its stadiums for the safe return of fans through a partnership with tech company Airspace.
The startup has developed technology that utilizes a company's camera system to detect whether or not people are wearing face masks. Jaz Banga, the co-founder and CEO of Airspace Technologies, told Cheddar his team isn't looking to act as an authority on mask-wearing, but help businesses find ways to improve compliance.
"Nobody wants to police these folks," Banga said. "We end up checking to see if the mask is being worn properly, or if the mask is half way, and what we end up doing is creating heat maps."
Heat maps, according to Banga, highlight potential high-risk infection zones. Airspace can then pass that data along the proper channels. Then clients, like the MLB, can then address issues under their established policies.
As information regarding Airspace's tech spreads, Banga said people should not lose sleep over surveillance concerns.
"It turns out that facial recognition is not an issue because you can't really detect people's faces when you're looking through people's masks," he explained.
For Airspace, the partnership with Major League Baseball is ideal as the two already have an established relationship to ensure the safety of visitors and workers at the stadiums, although he was clear that he could not comment on the league's deployment decisions.
"For the last three of four years we've been focusing on, 'How do we secure the space above facilities,'" Banga said. "Our job is to make sure security teams on the ground know exactly what's going on above their facilities."
The technology, while scaled for large venues and already in place at some airports, could be the new norm for a variety of businesses as people look to "create a safe environment" without having to be confrontational with those that are not wearing masks, Banga said.
"Imagine walking up to a grocery store door and the door won't open up. Imagine going to an office and the door won't open up because you don't have your mask on," he said.
While Airspace works to provide companies with secure and safe workplaces, personal security, for many, will continue to be a major concern. But, as more businesses consider the tech, Banga said discretion is key.
"Privacy will be respected going forward," he said, "We're building systems in place that allow us to protect people's privacy."
Updated August 17, 2020 to clarify that Banga had no comment on Major League Baseball's deployment, or not, of face mask detection technology in stadiums.