Chinese police are using facial recognition sunglasses to track citizens

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

China’s police have a new weapon in their surveillance arsenal: sunglasses with built-in facial recognition. According to reports from local media, the glasses are being tested at train stations in the “emerging megacity” of Zhengzhou, where they’ll be used to scan travelers during the upcoming Lunar New Year migration. This is a period of extremely busy holiday travel, often described as the largest human migration event on Earth, and police say the sunglasses have already been used to capture seven suspects wanted in major cases, as well as 26 individuals traveling under false identities.

The sunglasses are the latest component in China’s burgeoning tech-surveillance state. In recent years, the country has poured resources into various advanced tracking technologies, 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, with Chinese tech startups outfitting them with advanced features like gait recognition.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the sunglasses being 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.

One challenge for facial recognition software is that it struggles when running on CCTV cameras, because the picture is blurry and by the time a target is identified they might already have moved on. The sunglasses, by comparison, given 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 (though the facial recognition support costs extra). LLVision says they’re able to recognize 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 “environmental noise.”

But the flexibility of a device like this is worrying for privacy advocates, who say that new surveillance technology is being deployed without adequate oversight, offering considerable new powers to governments. This is especially true in China, where law enforcement can track and surveil citizens with complete freedom. William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, told WSJ: “The potential to give individual police officers facial-recognition technology in sunglasses could eventually make China’s surveillance state all the more ubiquitous.”



Rumor has it that even toilet seats track you there.

Good thing they don’t have a lot of toilet seats there then, haha. They mostly use squat toilets, though there are a few western style toilets. So I suppose those could be used to track pesky westerners.

The fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory it is vitally important to get a receipt

Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

This is so cool.

and the officer in that header image looks so hot teched up like that.

Deunan I heart you forever.

You are being watched.

"The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it."

Big brother is watching, but you already knew that.

And the scary part is that you can add "… and you don’t care" to the end of that statement.

When it comes to AI all I can think of is Ian Malcolm saying "They were too preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think of whether or not they should."

Frankly I’d prefer Big Brother cyborgs carrying batons over the trigger happy paramilitary squads we have in the US. Of course if this technology were used here we’d just end up with trigger happy Big Brother cyborg paramilitary squads…

I read somewhere that the Secret Service was (is?) looking into something similar. Actually makes a lot of sense.

That hat though…

And we struggle with getting body cam working in the USA.

Oh they work,…They just magically fail when it counts. These things, on the other hand, are recording their job performance. It’s looking only at you. These, they won’t have a problem with.

The issue is they can be turned off whenever it’s convenient.

I’ll believe it works when I see it working.
Otherwise it smells a lot like propaganda.
Don’t come here or our magic sunglasses will find you and a laser beam will mortally zap you in an instant.
Surrrre they will.

This is pretty cool. Anyone who is not trying to hide from the police should be in favor of this. It would eliminate the big problem of police bias against certain individuals based on race, looks, the way they dress, etc, because this system would (presumably) be unbiased.

Every system they have is biased and this one will be too.

A very sexy looking police officer, caught on camera. Can AI identify her?

I heard rumors Chinese police are also equipped with something called eyes and human intellgence, enabling them to not only instantly identify suspects they’ve been trained to spot, but also caculate where you are, what you’re doing, identify your social-economic background, assume your gender, and even extrapolate your potential motive, this is clearly a huge invasion of privacy.
Even worse, these police are also equipped with legs, enabling them to approach and arrest you, further eroding your freedom of doing whatever you want in a public space.
On the flip side, most Chinese police don’t carry guns, so at least you won’t be shot.

7 minutes. And we’re only at the very beginning of the AI-pocalypse

There is no privacy in China though.

The photos are released by Chinese government for press / publicity? The officers are so hot.

China is really a safe place,you know.

Poor Chinese, always getting it wrong. The US method – shooting someone first and then letting the cleanup team check whether they were armed or fugitives – is a heck of a lot easier on the public budget.

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