China deploys a new surveillance tool that IDs you by the way you walk

Do you know that individuals can be identified by the distinct manner by which they move? An article in Associated Press reported on the newest surveillance tool from China that can tell who you are by the way you walk.

“Gait recognition” technology looks at the shape of a person’s body and their walking patterns. Based on this information, an artificial intelligence can identify any person, even if his or her face cannot be seen.

The system has already been deployed in Beijing and Shanghai. It is part of China’s bigger effort to develop powerful AI that can collect huge amounts of data.

According to its developer Watrix, the gait recognition system can identify anyone within 165 feet (50 meters) of a CCTV camera. It does not matter if the person is hiding his face or has his back turned to the camera. The AI cannot be fooled by disguises or fake movement.

“People still don’t recognize they can be recognized by their gait, whereas everybody knows you can be recognized by your face,” warned gait recognition expert Mark Nixon of the University of Southampton. “We believe you are totally unique in the way you walk.”

China deploys “gait recognition” systems that study the way you walk

Watrix CEO Huang Yongzhen explained that facial recognition technology requires very detailed photos of the face that have been taken at close range. His company’s AI-powered surveillance system can compensate for that weakness.

“You don’t need people’s cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity,” he said. “Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body.”

Chinese police employ facial recognition technology to spot lawbreakers who are using crowds as cover for their crimes. They are also working on integrating surveillance cameras all across the country into a single network.

In Xinjiang, police officers are reportedly interested in Watrix’s newest surveillance product. Deploying the gait recognition system in the province will enable them to more thoroughly suppress the restless Muslim population.

Experts all but predicted that China would embrace biometric identification with no qualms. The country’s central government exerts extremely strict control over all aspects of society to prevent any kind of instability.

To Chinese leaders, biometrics are just the latest tool to enforce stability and keep society running smoothly. Chinese companies have been profiting from this official policy by providing the government with the latest surveillance systems.

There is no hiding your identity from AI-driven surveillance systems

The gait recognition software developed by Watrix analyzes video footage of a person. The artificial intelligence determines the shape of the person and studies how the latter moves. The data is used to create a computer model of the gait of the person.

The current iteration of the Chinese surveillance system is not yet capable of real-time operations. First, the video has to be uploaded to the program. Second, the AI takes about one minute to analyze every six minutes of footage.

However, the AI software has no problems perusing the footage from run-of-the-mill security cameras. Huang also claimed his company’s product achieved an accuracy rate of 94 percent using ordinary video recording.

The Watrix CEO added that face-scanning software isn’t just for spying on potential criminals and troublemakers. Supposedly, the AI could be programmed to look for signs of people who are in trouble. A modified version of the gait recognition software could watch out for senior citizens who have collapsed and cannot get back up.

See for more coverage of personal privacy in an age of techno-tyranny.

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