A ‘gait recognition’ technology is being used by police in Beijing and Shanghai, China, where it can identify individuals even when their face is obscured or their back is turned, according to an AP report.
The technology is developed by Chinese AI startup Watrix, which recently picked up a $14.5 million funding round to further develop its systems. CEO Huang Yongzhen told the AP that it can ID 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.
The positive impact is in finding criminals; however, media reports have shown that China has deployed surveillance technology for more sinister purposes that include controlling its people.
In particular, the government has been criticized for the way it uses its databases and facial recognition tech to police China’s ethnic minorities. A system deployed in Xinjiang — a Western province with a population of some 10 million ‘Uighur’ Muslims — is reportedly designed to notify authorities when “target” individuals go beyond their home or place of work, according to Bloomberg.