Face Detection Systems Are Increasingly Common in China


Face Detection Systems Are Increasingly Common in China

Face Detection Systems Are Increasingly Common in China
Face Detection Systems Are Increasingly Common in China – image via technologyreview.com

Face detection systems are something out of sci-fi movies, right? Well, they might have been in the past, but they surely make up the present, especially in China. Why in China, you may ask? Well, because their government doesn’t seem to mind or bother itself with things like privacy or surveillance.

The technology itself has been around for some time now, but only recently has it become so good and precise that it can be used with a high degree of accuracy in all sorts of situations like buying stuff, going to the bank, going on public transport, and even policing.

The new technology is already being used on several popular apps in China. Face detection systems are used to transfer money around via Alipay, a payment app used by over 120 million Chinese. There is no need for other identification and only your face will do.

One of the companies that work with face detection technology in China is Face++. It is a startup worth over one billion dollars. Its offices are the prime testing site of the technology, having your picture taken the moment you come to the front door. With it, you have access inside and you are constantly being monitored and identified by 83 points on your face.

Employees simply show their face to gain entry to the company’s headquarters.

Another company that uses Face++’s face detection systems, besides the previously mentioned Alipay, is Didi. This is a ride-hailing company that uses this software and allows the passengers to see that the drivers are actually licensed to be at the wheel. As a preventive measure so as people do not try to cheat by using a photo, the technology requires your facial features to move or even speak while the app scans your face.

Whatever the case may be, this technology is huge over there and it’s becoming more and more implemented into everyday life. Some apartment blocks only allow access via face detection, or inside access approval, or paying in fast food restaurants and coffee shops.

Another face detection developer had proven that their technology is even better than people of recognising different persons from their childhood photos. The Chinese public does seem pleased with the technology simply based on the convenience it offers. But given the many surveillance cameras all over the larger cities, this new technology, as well as the eagerness of the government to use it, does raise some ethical questions.