What do you get if you cross Google Glass with FaceID and an Orwellian future? Smart glasses with awesome facial recognition skills. Welcome to the latest bit of kit in China’s already impressive surveillance arsenal.
Chinese officials recently showed off their latest suveillence tool: facial recognition eyeglasses.
Each set of high tech facewear is equipped with bleeding edge optics and advanced facial recognition algorithms. The smarts behind all of this is potent enough to pinpoint a single fugitive in even the most crowded of places: like a train station or airport.
All the wearer has to do is point the glasses at someone and it will identify passersby, in seconds and with unparalleled accuracy.
It does this by the attached camera taking precise measurements of the width and depth of a face before comparing it to a database of identified individuals. As I said, this is completed in seconds.
Handy for people like me that can’t remember people’s names!
Facial recognoition smart glasses
Authorities have also revealed that the glasses are responsible for the capture of seven people wanted in connection with major cases. Furthermore, they were used to spot 26 others traveling under a false or assumed identity.
This is obvioulsy what they are saying the glasses were designed for.
Be seeing you
From a policing point-of-view, these glasses are a sleeker alternative to the fixed-position units often used at transport hubs and border crossings.
With the current fixed-position facial recognition devices, the cost and slow speeds offer major drawbacks.
Firstly, by the time authorities recognise a suspect, for example, the person of interest has the chance to blend back into a large crowd before officers arrive on the scene.
Having the tech balanced on your nose and ears allows the officer to keep their eyes on the suspect. Moreover, they are able to follow them whilst they wait for the information back from the specs.
Secondly, by storing the datasets on a hand-held device rater than in the cloud, authorities can work quickly in apprehending those suspected of wrongdoing.
Just because you can…
This all sound very peachy for the police, but not everyone is happy.
William Nee of Amnesty International in a comment to The Wall Street Journal, said:
The potential to give individual police officers facial-recognition technology in sunglasses could eventually make China’s surveillance state all the more ubiquitous,”
Naturally, there are also fears that this technology could make it easier to monitor political dissidents and ethnic minorities.
China has been collecting biometric data on its citizens for years. It also has the largest network of surveillance cameras in the world.
Adding details of both suspects and law-abiding citizens to a database makes everyone instantly recognisable to authorities. Some see this as being neccessary for the safety of all.
However, there is also a feeling that China is heading for everything we’ve seen from dystopian fiction.
How do you feel about it? Let me know below.