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China’s surveillance efforts have hit a new level with a technology that can apparently identify individuals based on their body shape and the way they walk. The “gait recognition” technology is already being used by police in Beijing and Shanghai where it can identify individuals even when their face is obscured or their back is turned.
The technology was developed by Chinese AI startup Watrix. The company claims that it can identify individuals at up to 50 meters (165 feet) which, in conjunction with existing facial recognition technology, can help police and surveillance systems operate more efficiently in busy areas.
Compared with other biometrics such as face, iris, palm print and finger print, gait features are still obtainable and recognizable at a distance with a low-resolution video. Therefore, with characteristics of non-contact, long distance (50 meters), cross-view (360°) recognition range and hard to disguise, gait recognition enables long-distance identification, using an ordinary 2K camera, according to Watrix website.
The average recognition rate can reach 94.1%, much better than the previous best result (less than 65%). The company also built the world’s largest gait database, whose capacity is dozens of times larger than the second.
While the technology could help law enforcement find criminals, media reports have shown that China has deployed surveillance technology for more sinister purposes that include controlling its people, especially ethnic minorities.
China is already home to the world’s largest network of CCTV cameras — more than 170 million — and its police have adopted Google Glass-like “smart specs” to seek out suspects in crowds, as techcrunch.com reports, citing news agencies.