The arrests spurred a splash of publicity from state media, who are crowning Mr. Cheung--one of the Hong Kong megastars known as the "Four Heavenly Kings"--with a new title: "The Nemesis of Fugitives." China's police departments have been openly touting their use of technology to nab lawbreakers--a campaign that rights activists say is aimed at winning public support for growing state surveillance. Concert organizers in China have also increasingly deployed facial-recognition systems to curb scalping by verifying the identities of ticket-holders. Surveillance companies and local security agencies have experimented with deploying the technology at events around the country in recent years. The tests date back to 2015, when one company, Shenzhen-based Firs Technology Co. Ltd. said its facial-recognition system helped police identify drug-users, fugitives and ex-convicts at a jewelry exhibition in the city of Chenzhou, in central China's Hunan province.
Facial recognition technology was introduced in the 1960s, languished through the AI winter, and in recent years has taken off -- boosted by increasingly powerful deep neural networks. Facial recognition has been applied in Face ID device unlocking functions, public security services, smart payment systems and more. During Taylor Swift's 2018 "Reputation" tour, the American singer-songwriter's security team utilized the tech to safeguard her from stalkers. Now, a research team from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Harbin Engineering University has adopted facial recognition technology to analyze students' emotions in the classroom through a visual analytics system called "EmotionCues." Paper co-author Huamin Qu says the system "provides teachers with a quick and convenient measure of students' engagement level in a class. Knowing whether the lectures are too hard and when students get bored can help improve teaching."
Looks like the Chinese surveillance state is really up and running, guys! Chinese state news agency ECNS reported Thursday that police used facial recognition-enabled cameras to catch a criminal suspect amongst a crowd of 60,000 concert-goers. The suspect, identified as Mr. Ao, was wanted "in connection with an economic dispute." Ao and his wife had traveled about 55 miles to see a Hong Kong pop star, Jacky Cheung, in concert at the Nanchang International Sports Center. Facial recognition cameras identified him at the concert's entrance, and police apprehended Ao amidst the crowd.
China's rapidly evolving surveillance technologies have snared their share of fugitives in recent years. Most of these cases have involved facial recognition cameras, which can detect individual facial features regardless of glasses, hats or masks. There were the 80-odd wanted suspects picked out of crowds of tens of thousands of fans at concerts by Jacky Cheung, a legendary Hong Kong pop star. In April this year, a genius student wanted on suspicion of killing his mother was caught after being on the lam for almost four years. He was nabbed within 10 minutes of entering Chongqing airport, local media outlet Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
In China, face recognition is transforming many aspects of daily life. Employees at e-commerce giant Alibaba in Shenzhen can show their faces to enter their office building instead of swiping ID cards. A train station in western Beijing matches passengers' tickets to their government-issued IDs by scanning their faces. If their face matches their ID card photo, the system deems their tickets valid and the station gate will open. The subway system in Hangzhou, a city about 125 miles southwest of Shanghai, employs surveillance cameras capable of recognizing faces to spot suspected criminals.