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China has been developing voice recognition technology for identification and surveillance purposes after it already turned face recognition into a constantly used technology. In a collaboration between the government of the southwestern Guizhou province, Tsinghua University, and Beijing-based d-Ear Technologies, a pilot project will link unique voice features to people’s national ID information and create, maintain, and secure a database of “voiceprints.”

China’s digitally-connected population has enabled the government to track people in many forms, but d-Ear and other companies say that voice recognition is a better and cheaper way to verify identity.

The d-Ear pilot would be similar to social media giant Tencent’s December pilot program in the southern city of Guangzhou, which allowed people to use facial recognition within its all-purpose WeChat app to create a digital version of their government-issued ID card. They could then use the digital ID for hotel check-ins and airport security checks, among other things.

Other Chinese companies have also been testing out voice identification, among them Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, which is working to install voice-recognition technology in ticket machines for all metro stations in Shanghai to verify commuters’ identities. One of the biggest players in the field, iFlytek, provides voice signatures for medical information — and also provides voice-recognition services for police bureaus in Xinjiang, the region home to the heavily surveilled Uyghur ethnic minority.