The Chinese government has been introducing very stringent rules for a long time now in the digital world, an initiative known infamously as the Great Firewall of China.
They have also been making steady progression in monitoring and controlling individuals’ movements, which has reached the limit with the introduction of gait recognition technology.
The latest report from the country confirmed that programmers in China have developed a new human detection technology.
When paired with artificial intelligence, on camera footage, Gait Recognition is capable of identifying different individuals based on the shape of their body, the way they look in different postures and how they walk.
It was even confirmed that police in Beijing and Shanghai have been monitoring the civilians using this technology for some time now.
The Company Behind the Gait Technology
Watrix is the Chinese surveillance company which developed and implemented the gait recognition technology.
The company’s CEO, Huang Yongzhen, further clarified in his statement that their surveillance cameras were able to identify people from a distance of 50 meters.
China has been actively expanding its grip over the general population with active face recognition technology, with which they can nab any individual within their country in less than a day.
Face recognition can sometimes be a hit or miss when people walk in a blind spot or choose to hide their faces using masks.
However, the newly developed gait recognition technology is much more reliable, according to the company, and it has successfully identified people without having access to their facial features.
The popular feature, real time recognition, that could immensely help the government is not available, yet it is capable of processing large quantities of data within a short turnaround time.
The CEO of Watrix confirmed it can easily scan through 60 minutes of CCTV footage within 10 minutes.
The technology has a high accuracy rate of 94 percent and makes use of the 170m CCTV cameras located throughout the country.
The Chinese government has been actively funding this company and many others that help them simplify the process of identifying individuals among a massive population.
Watrix recently raised a round of $14.5 million (100 million yuan) which allowed them to further improve the accuracy of the technology by deploying more people in the project.
Surveillance Can Be Done Without a Person’s Consent
In a controversial statement to AP, Huang Yongzhen said that people need not cooperate or even be notified as to when they are being monitored to confirm their identity.
The technology is far more superior than most would assume, because no one can fool the surveillance by simply walking with a different pose, limping or hunching because it will take the other parts of the body into consideration to confirm it is the same person.
Still, the gait recognition feature is still in its nascent stages because it requires lot of processing power to capture the silhouette of a person before matching it with their original posture.
Controversy Abounds over New Surveillance Policies
The Chinese government is being constantly accused of trespassing into individuals’ freedom with constant surveillance of all types.
Gait recognition is yet another way to keep track of civilians and make it easier to isolate people of a particular ethnic group to achieve the federal goals.
In the recent past, the government has been criticized worldwide for its policing of ethnic minorities, especially Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province.
There are thousands of Muslims being detained in the region and, as Bloomberg News reported earlier this year, they were all identified using facial recognition technology.
Despite privacy concerns being high, the authorities are in no position to entertain or receive consent from individuals before monitoring them at every level.
It is expected that the government will invest more and install at least 400 million CCTV cameras throughout the country by 2020 to survey the entire population at all times.