Authorities in China have developed a new surveillance tool that can identify a person even if his or her face remains hidden from the cameras.
This new tool is a ‘gait recognition’ software that identifies a person from their body shape and their style of walking. Notably, the police of Beijing and Shanghai have been using it already for surveillance on the streets.
This new technology is paving way for China towards a surveillance system that is based on artificial intelligence and is data-driven.
The system owes its existence to the Chinese firm Watrix, which claims that this technology can identify anyone at the distance of 50 meters (165 feet) just by assessing how they are carrying themselves, no matter whether there back is turned or their face is covered.
Gait Recognition Software: A Boon and a Bane
This development can address the loopholes in face recognition. According to the CEO of the company, “You don’t need people’s cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity,” he said. “Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body.”
Although the software cannot detect people in real time as of now, it can search an hour-long footage within just 10 minutes with a 94 percent accuracy rate.
As mentioned earlier, the Chinese police are already using this software on the streets to locate the jaywalkers and identify people in the crowd. The authorities are planning to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.
However, people are also raising concerns over the extent to which this gait recognition can go. Only recently, the security officials of Xinjiang, the far-western Muslims-populated province, have shown great interest in the software.
It needs to be mentioned here that the populace of the province is already being subjected to intense surveillance, control, and purges. Using this software in Xinjiang is only going to raise the number of detentions and add to people’s miseries.