China has a new surveillance tool that identifies citizens by the way they walk

Chinese authorities have begun to develop a new surveillance tool that aims to locate people by walking or by shaping their bodies.

Adding to the already amazing number of surveillance cameras – many of which use visual bleeding systems and facial recognition technologies – China is already using the tool on the streets in its two largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai. Again, it raises concerns amongst privacy advocates about the extent to which the government is willing to go to keep tabs on its citizens.

Huang Yongzhen, Chief Technology Officer of Watrix, who designed the system, says he can spot people from 50 feet (165 feet) even when their backs are turned or their face is covered.

Credit: Associated Press

The tool would fill the gaps in current surveillance technology, requiring close-up high-resolution images of a person's face to work. Watrix requires only a clear picture of the person walking, even from the back or side.

"You do not need people to work together to be able to recognize their identity," Huang told the Associated Press. "Gait's analysis can not be fooled simply by stumbling, strolling, or having fun because we analyze all the features of the whole body."

The company has already accumulated about 100 million yuan ($ 14.5 million) already and is currently used to prevent petty crimes such as jaywalking, and to identify potential fugitives in crowds.

Below the line, security officials say they are developing an integrated national surveillance camera data system, which would add the new gadget recognition system.

Chinese "step identifiers" recognize people as they walk
in the Associated Press