How a Seattle school can keep tabs on students without face masks

SEATTLE — Even with the vaccine rollout, experts say people should continue to wear masks for several more months. Now, there’s technology to keep tabs on whether people are doing it.

MaskCheck was developed by RealNetworks in Seattle and is being used by the Bush School to make sure students are using face coverings.

Using the app, Head of School Percy Abram says he can tell how many students and staff are walking around campus without a mask.

“It feeds us back data so we are able to determine what the compliance levels are on campus,” he says, “I wasn’t sure if this was going to be successful and accurate but, it has proven incredibly accurate for us.”

The app can turn any phone or tablet into a COVID compliance device, which the Bush School has set up at entryways.

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser says what sets MaskCheck apart is its accuracy, detail and video evidence.

“We have a lot of information about this pandemic but what we don’t know is if people are actually wearing masks or if they’re wearing them properly,” he says.

The app can recognize up to eight faces at a time and detect age and gender, according to Glaser. Users can choose whether to keep scans private or upload them to the community.

We asked how an app that knows so many details can remain secure and private.

“This is a civic, non-profit free thing,” Glaser says, “No ads, no gimmicks, no nothing.”

Glaser says MaskCheck partnered with the COVID-19 International Research Team, otherwise known as COV-IRT, to ensure that scans are secure.

At the Bush School, Abram says students and faculty are embracing the new compliance method.

“I think this is just one more element of security and assurance,” he said.