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China’s Gait Recognition Software, a New Weapon for Surveillance?

A Chinese firm recently released a gait recognition machine which uses the way people walk to identify them. Police in some cities have already deployed this tool.

According to the Chinese newspaper, the Yangtse Evening Post, the system is named “Shui Di Shen Jian (水滴神鉴).” It uses the characteristics of the human gait as the object and conducts rapid searches for and identification of people in massive video clips through the gait recognition technology. It has the ability to achieve a retrieval speed six times faster than other methods. With this technology, it only takes 10 minutes to screen a one-hour video with an accuracy rate of 94 percent.

Associated Press reported on November 5 that the Chinese police have already used the system on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai. “‘Gait recognition’ is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go.”

The developer of the tool Watrix announced last month that it had raised 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) to step up the development and sale of the technology. Chinese police have been using facial recognition technology to monitor people and arrest pedestrians who violate traffic rules. The Police in Xinjiang, who are using facial recognition to monitor Muslim communities, are said to be interested in acquiring gait recognition products.

Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said using biotech to maintain social stability and managing the society is an inevitable trend and a perfect business opportunity as well.

Gait recognition technology is not a new technology. Defense information agencies in Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been studying the technology for years. Japanese police has been experimenting with gait recognition technology since 2013, but they have not yet tried to commercialize this technology. China is charging ahead because of its emphasis on social control.

Source: Radio Free Asia, November 6, 2018