During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as mask requirements became commonplace in both public and private settings, technology vendors began selling products that they claimed could tell if someone was wearing a mask — or not. With press releases and high-profile demonstrations, the vendors attracted the attention of critics who were skeptical of the solutions’ capabilities and potential surveillance applications. Allied Market Research optimistically predicted that the market would be worth over $1 billion by 2027.

Now that mask requirements are being lifted in countries around the world — albeit prematurely, according to some health experts — the dust is starting to settle. As demand for mask detection technologies steadily declines, the products are having far-reaching implications with privacy and security implications, interviews with vendors suggest.

For example, Shaun Moore, Trueface’s CEO, says he doesn’t see any customers who have already purchased Trueface’s mask recognition technology…

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