The Communications University of China is using facial recognition technology as a means to log attendance in select classrooms.
Accorting to a report from China Daily, some 300 students in six courses at the university located in the eastern city of Nanjing now stand in front of an interactive tablet screen when they walk in the door for lectures. Photos taken at the tablet screen are matched against those logged in the university’s database.
The system is based on facial recognition technology from Chinese Internet goliath, Baidu’s open AI platform. The system is highly accurate and can reportedly identify students even if they change their hair or wear makeup. The professor who launched the initiative says it has been effective in helping lecturers to identify students who regularly skip class, as well as saves time and reduces teacher workloads.
The platform on which the attendance program is based, offers more than 80 different technological services to the public, helping program developers to develop their own applications.
Facial recognition technology has already been deployed for a number of uses in the region, with Beijing’s Temple of Heaven recently using the biometric technology at public restrooms to, bizarrely enough, deter toilet paper theft. Elsewhere, Chinese police have installed facial recognition scanners at busy intersections to catch jaywalkers, and a Beijing university has used the technology to lock down access to its dorms.
China’s Industry Institute estimates that the facial recognition market in the country surpassed 1 billion yuan (about $150 million) in 2016. That figure is expected to reach 5.1 billion yuan by 2021.