Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance
tool: gait recognition software that uses peoples body shapes and
how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden
Already used by police 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.
Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can
identify people from up to 165 feet away, even with their back
turned or face covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition,
which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a persons face to
Huang Yongzhen, CEO of
Watrix, demonstrates the use of his firms gait recognition software
at his companys offices in Beijing.
You dont need peoples cooperation for us to be able to recognize
their identity, Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office.
Gait analysis cant be fooled by simply limping, walking with
splayed feet or hunching over, because were analyzing all the
features of an entire body.
Watrix announced last month that it had raised 100 million yuan
($14.5 million) to accelerate the development and sale of its gait
recognition technology, according to Chinese media reports.
Chinese police are using facial recognition to identify people
in crowds and nab jaywalkers and are developing an integrated
national system of surveillance camera data. Not everyone is
comfortable with gait recognitions use.
Security officials in Chinas far-western province of Xinjiang, a
region whose Muslim population is already subject to intense
surveillance and control, have expressed interest in the
Shi Shusi, a Chinese columnist and commentator, says its
unsurprising that the technology is catching on in China faster
than the rest of the world because of Beijings emphasis on social
Using biometric recognition to maintain social stability and
manage society is an unstoppable trend, he said. Its great
The technology isnt new. Scientists in Japan, the United Kingdom
and the US Defense Information Systems Agency have been researching
gait recognition for over a decade, trying different ways to
overcome skepticism that people could be recognized by the way they
walk. Professors from Osaka University have worked with Japans
National Police Agency to use gait recognitio...