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Facial recognition installed in Chinese university to keep out ‘strangers’

A girl tries Alibaba's facial-recognition Cloud device exhibited on the 18th China Beijing International High-tech Expo at China international Exhibition Center Photo: Visual China Group

One of China’s top universities has installed facial recognition in a female dormitory to ensure the building is off limits to non-residents.

The scanners were introduced by Beijing Normal University last month over security concerns, and will be rolled out to another nine female dormitory buildings if they prove successful.

Facial recognition is becoming increasingly common in China, where it has been installed in ATM machines, KFC restaurants and even public toilets, as a means of clamping down on loo-roll theft.

The scanning technology was even used by organisers of a marathon in Beijing to snare cheats, and by a college lecturer to allow him to spot if students were getting bored.

Female students at the Beijing Normal University had their pictures taken last month before the machines were installed.

When they enter the building they are required to say their names, swipe an identity card and have their faces scanned.

If the student is recognised by the machine, it will say “welcome home” and the door will open.  It says “be pretty” when students exit the building.

Students at the university were impressed with the technological capabilities of the new machines. “They are able to recognise me even if I change my hairstyle, because pictures were taken of me from different angles when I first registered," one told the Beijing News.

A university in China’s north-east installed facial recognition last year, reports said.

That system also informs the university if a student does not return back to the dormitory within 24 hours.

Beijing Normal University said its machines will make it easier for students to enter their dormitory if they forget their identification cards.

The technology will also reduce staff workload and improve security, officials said.

“We couldn’t prevent strangers from entering before, but now the monitoring system will alert if any strangers follow the students when they enter the building,” a university official told the Beijing News.

However, some social media comments suggested the university installed the scanning machines to keep out not only thieves – but also boyfriends.

“They’ll certainly have a big impact,” said one post on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“A big impact in ensuring students don’t establish romantic relationships!"

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