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The body camera has been in use by law enforcement officers for more than a decade. Such video devices provide what experts called a “civilizing effect”, motivating both police and the public they interact with to behave better because they know the interaction is being recorded.

However, the technology on such devices is still relatively basic. The average cameras usually provide a limited field of view between 130 to 170 degrees, meaning they are often unable to capture on video the full extent of an incident. For example, if a suspect is approaching from a police officer’s back, or if the officer is in a kneeling or prone position, the average camera cannot capture what’s going on in the surroundings.

A Chinese start-up may have the solution to this problem. Police officers across China could soon be equipped with panoramic-view body cameras that come loaded with facial and gesture recognition technology, allowing them to identify wanted suspects in real-time.  

Nebula Science and Technology claims to have developed the world’s first surround-body camera with inbuilt facial recognition technology to help the police identify suspects and ensure that complete video evidence is available for any event.

Designed to be worn on the shoulder, the camera can capture so-called 720-degree (fish-eye-like panoramic views), high-definition footage – and even has gesture recognition capability. If a suspect behaves aggressively towards the police officer, the camera can detect the action and will continue tracking and focusing on the suspect, the company said.

The latest version of the device is equipped with 4G and Wi-fi connectivity, and can be linked to a central database containing identification photos of Chinese citizens.

With facial and image recognition modules installed in the body cameras, it would be possible to monitor crowds and have the camera identify wanted persons in real-time, especially at high-profile events. Some police officers in Beijing and Tianjin are already using these upgraded body cameras, according to scmp.com.