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China has new surveillance camera technology that can recognize people from walking style

Watrix employees demonstrate their firm's gait recognition software at their company's offices in Beijing. Photo: AP

China has rolled out surveillance software in Beijing and Shanghai which authorities say can identify people from their walking style, even with their backs turned and faces hidden.

The CEO of Watrix, the company behind the technology, says it will fix problems with facial recognition software, which relies on close-up, high-quality images to match people, the Associated Press reported.

The software takes a digital model of a person's silhouette and walking style from surveillance video and then creates a 3D model of a person's style and stance.

It identifies step length, stride length, cadence, speed, dynamic base, progression line, foot angle, hip angle, and squat performance, The Asia Times reported.

Security footage is then fed through the software and it will match people's walks to the database, Watrix CEO Huang Yongzhen said to AP on Wednesday.

In practice, the software takes 10 minutes to search through one hour of surveillance video and make a connection.

Huang told AP that his software can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, and is 94% accurate.

Huang said: "You don't need people's cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity. 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."

Huang also told the state-controlled People's Daily newspaper: "A suspect may never be aware that he has been tracked by the system until he is hunted down," The Asia Times reported.

China's government is also collecting voice samples from Chinese citizens so they can identify people through their speech, Human Rights Watch reported in 2017. The report says that Chinese police took 70,000 voice samples from Anhui Province residents in eastern China, where trials were taking place.

Voice recognition as a method of identification is tiny in comparison to facial recognition, and Chinese police are thought to have one billion faces on record.


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