POLICE IN CHINA USING FACIAL RECOGNITION SUNGLASSESDate: 2018-02-09
The facial recognition sunglasses are being used by officers in police stations to oversee travellers during the Lunar New Year.
As per usual, China are the overachievers when it comes to the latest technology. Their latest weapon in their surveillance arsenal are sunglasses with built-in facial recognition. According to reports from local media, these glasses are being tested at train stations in the "emerging megacity" of Zhengzhou. The Lunar New Year is a period of extremely busy holiday travel, often described as the largest human migration event on Earth. The police say the sunglasses have already been used to capture seven suspects wanted in major cases, as well as 26 individuals travelling under false identities.
In recent years the country has poured resources into various advanced tracking technologies and the sunglasses are the latest component in China's burgeoning tech-surveillance. They are developing artificial intelligence to identify individuals and digitally tail them around cities. One estimate suggests the country will have more than 600 million CCTV cameras by 2020. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, these sunglasses that are deployed in Zhengzhou are built by Beijing-based LLVision Technology Co. The company's chief executive Wu Fei told the publication that LLVision worked with local police to develop the technology to suit their needs.
The challenge with facial recognition software though, is that it's a struggle when running it through CCTV cameras due to the pictures being blurry and, by the time a target is identified, they might have already moved on. With the sunglasses, it gives the police "the ability to check anywhere" says Wu. "By making wearable glasses, with AI on the front end, you get instant and accurate feedback. You can decide right away what the next interaction is going to be."
The sunglasses are controlled by a connected mobile unit and sell for 3,999 yuan, or $636 (the facial recognition support costs extra). LLVision says they are able to recognise individuals from a pre-loaded database of 10,000 suspects in just 100 milliseconds, but cautions that accuracy levels in real-life usage may vary due to "environmental noise."
The flexibility of a device like this is worrying for privacy advocates, who claim that new surveillance technology is being deployed without adequate oversight, offering considerable new powers to governments.