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China Police are Spotting Criminals with Face-recognition Glasses


Chinese officers can look at you and tell if you’re a criminal (via China News Service)

Chinese law enforcement officers have started wearing shades able to spot criminals in a crowd using facial recognition technology.

Produced by Beijing-based company LLVision, the glasses have a built-in camera able to scan passersby’ faces and send data to a paired handset, whose Artificial Intelligence system compares the crowd against a database of 10,000 images of suspected criminals— in about 100 milliseconds.


A facial recognition algorithm compares passersby’s faces against a database of wanted suspects (via China News Service)


The technology has recently been trialled at the train station of east-central megalopolis Zhengzhou, and it has reportedly already helped the police spot and arrest seven wanted criminals and 26 people using fake IDs. It is not clear what the glasses’ exact level of accuracy is, and it is reportedly influenced by “environmental noise.”

The device’s big official debut will be next week, when a vast amount of travellers will flock through the busy station during China’s Lunar New Year holiday.

The price tag for sunglasses and handset is reportedly  3,999 yuan (around £455), not including the facial recognition software’s cost.

A piece by the Wall Street Journal features an interview with LLVision’s CEO Wu Fei, who explained how the company teamed up with Zhengzhou’s police to build something that could help them overcome the limitations of CCTV surveillance.

While facial recognition technology can be run on security cameras, it is often ineffectual because CCTV footage is  blurry and this detracts from the algorithm’s ability to spot and flag up suspects timely. By contrast, LLVision’s specs allow cops “to check anywhere,” Wu told the Wall Street Journal. .

“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,” he added.

This is just the latest chapter in China’s ongoing romance with total surveillance. Privacy advocates were of course quick to condemn the glasses’ deployment.


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