Tag Archives: facial recognition

The Commuter’s Shopping Impulse

A good piece that explores the point I was trying to make earlier about the commuter element in cellphone service adoption, from Reuters’ Sachi Izumi (via textually.org).

Someone needs to look closely at the link between flat free pricing for mobile browsing and m-commerce (yeah I don’t like calling it that either, but it’s there to differentiate between buying online and buying on the mobile. I’m sure the distinction will blur eventually). Japan’s burst in mobile commerce ahead of the rest of the world is impressive, and it’s all to do with people being stuck with their phones for company for long periods. Jun Hasebe, an analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research: “Impulse shopping accounts for most of the purchases done on mobile phones, and that would not usually happen unless users are on flat fee-based services.” Phones, in a word, have become more like our friends than our friends are.

The only thing holding this back? Fear of fraud. Most people don’t like punching in their credit cards to their phones, although this may have as much to do with where they are (public places, public transport) than it is about actual fraud. One reason I think facial recognition as authentication will play a big role.

China Cracks Down on Beautified Soccer Hooligans

Further to my post about China’s facial recognition, a system — possibly the same one — will be used to ban soccer hooliganism at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the Beijing News reported on Wednesday. It will even work on those who try to look their best for the occasion: 

If the hooligans attempt to enter stadiums to watch soccer games again during the one-year term, police are obliged to take them away from the games, it added. Face recognition devices to be installed at the stadiums will be able to spot hooligans even if they wear heavy makeup, Liu Xuechao, a senior police officer with the Municipal Public Security Bureau, was quoted as saying. “

For some reason I can’t shake the image of hordes of Chelsea fans wearing lipstick and too much eye-shadow.

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China’s Facial Recognition System

China is about to launch a new facial recognition system “which will be used in public places, such as airports, post offices, customs entrances and even residential communities”, according to today’s China Daily (no URL available yet.)

The invention, developed by Su Guangda, an Electronic Engineering Department professor with Beijing-based Tsinghua University, has been approved by a panel of experts from the Ministry of Public Security, the paper says. The system “excels at capturing moving facial images and features a multi-camera technology to lower the error for mismatching.”

Of course this is a sensitive area, particularly in China. The paper says the technology is already in place, but “limited to police use. The technology has helped the police in Beijing solve a few criminal cases involving child abduction and supermarket blackmail in the past few years.” But its creator is quoted as pushing for broader use, saying residential communities, airports and banks could use it. Since China has no fingerprint database for the general public, instead the photo on the national ID card “might help establish a facial database easily.”

Su said one feature of the system is the use of multiple cameras to limit errors, although it’s not clear from the report whether we’re talking multple cameras at an entry point to capture different profiles of the face, or millions of cameras all over the place to capture everyone everywhere.

The professor does acknowledge privacy concerns. His solution: “As long as you don’t save the picture in the computer and just scan individual faces quickly, the privacy violation is not an issue,” Su said. “And we could realize that by avoiding adding a picture saving function to the technology,” he said.

I’m no expert, but I don’t really see how that is a solution. Surely that could easily be circumvented by an over-eager security team, and in any case, it doesn’t really address the underlying concerns about use of facial recognition, although maybe that horse has already bolted. An earlier piece in the China Daily said the database already has 2.56 million faces and can make a face match within a second and has been in use for a year to catch suspects on the run.