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The Surprising Global Forward March of Facial Recognition - Part 3 

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China is now THE world FaceID innovation laboratory. Country is installing over 600 million CCTV cameras, see the fining of jaywalkers through video, the pace of Asia digital retail change, and face recognition being deployed in 11,000 7-Eleven stores in Thailand. 

These Cool Sunglasses Just FaceID You

  • China is perfecting a nation-wide video surveillance network. 176 million surveillance cameras were in use at the end of 2017 and 626 million are expected by 2020.​ In a recent facial recognition experiment in the city of Guiyang (4.3+ million people), a BBC reporter was found within the city in just seven minutes. 

  • Police officers at the Zhengzhou East high-speed rail station, using facial recognition glasses (opening image), identified seven fugitives related to hit-and-run and human trafficking cases, plus spotted 26 cases of identity fraud in February this year. 
  • Shanghai, which has one of the world's longest and busiest mass-transit systems is installing voice and facial recognition Alibaba solutions. Voice will speed up ticket processing and facial recognition will verify the identities of the commuters. 
  • Facial recognition systems are being used in China to identify and fine jaywalkers.

  • At separate concerts in China, face recognition was used by the police to catch three wanted fugitives. In one case, a man was identified in a crowd of 50,000 people. 
  • One popular park in Beijing uses face-scanning toilet paper dispensers in public bathrooms to limit each person to a two-foot length of paper every nine minutes. 

China's Digital Retail Transformation

Globally China leads digital transformation experimentation in multiple industries, including retail. 

  • JD.Com currently has six China stores using facial recognition. "Shoppers merely sign up to a JD.com account, via their smartphone. Once they’ve been verified, they can shop freely — there are no queues, nor cashiers. Payments are deducted from their account, as they leave the store."

  • "Lenovo has opened an unmanned convenience store in China, using it as a testbed for trialing facial-recognition, e-payment, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented reality (AR) technologies, with its tablets acting as the staffers of the store."
  • The Denmark-based Bestseller Fashion Group worked with Tencent to develop two smart fashion shops in China. "By scanning the contours of their faces, consumers are able to receive fashion advice from automated virtual assistant services. Products that they like can be bought directly through WeChat. Shoppers can also elect to join a bestseller facial recognition club, which allows them to make purchases at the automated stores simply by having their faces scanned." 
  • In 2017, a KFC location in Hangzhou China allowed customers with registered accounts to pay for their meals using facial scans. "The software also recommends orders based on a customer’s age, mood, and gender." An affiliate of Alibaba launched the service. 

Banking on China's Face Recognition

  • In China, HSBC Holdings PLC, a British multinational financial company allows customers to transfer up to 50,000 yuan ($7,515) per day to new payees by combining facial recognition with passwords on the bank's mobile app.
  • Chinese start-up Cloudwalk Technology is helping banks boost efficiency by upgrading facial recognition with machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify VIP customers and their mood. Consumers do not need debit cards to withdraw money from ATMs. 

China's Image Recognition Investments Keep Growing

  • SenseTime, valued at $4.5 billion, has established itself as China's largest AI company. The platform boasts "an astounding 1,207 network layers that can simultaneously train up to 2 billion facial images. The company claims that is has already processed 500 million identities for facial recognition purposes. 
  • Home-sharing start-up Xiaozhu, China’s answer to Airbnb, will use the peak travel season of Lunar New Year to test smart locks that can be opened by scanning tenants’ faces. 
  • In May, a middle school in east China installed cameras to analyze students' facial expressions to determine if they were paying attention in class. 
  • Students at Hangzhou Normal University in Hangzhou use face-recognition technology to enter their dormitories. The university is also considering using the technology to keep track of attendance. 
  • Honour of Kings, one of China’s most popular video games, is testing the use of facial recognition to check the ages of users to limit the playtime of younger players. 
  • An app in China has successfully reunited missing children with their families within one week using facial recognition. 
  • Volvo which is now Chinese owned is using advanced face recognition systems to help tired driving stay awake by checking their alertness. 
It's a Small FaceID World After All
It's not just China that is leading the global expansion of facial recognition. 
  • 7-Eleven in Thailand is rolling out facial recognition in all their 11,000 stores. "Combined with behavior analysis, the tech will be used to identify loyalty members, analyze in-store traffic, monitor product levels, measure customer emotions and suggest products to consumers while they shop."
  • The International Finance Center Mall in Seoul South Korea is using facial recognition in its information kiosks. " As a customer approaches, the cameras identify the person’s age and gender in real-time, personalizing interactive advertisements accordingly."
  • India, which already has one of the largest biometric databases, announced the government launch of facial authentication for July 2018.  
  • Russia's Central Bank has been deploying a country-wide program since 2017 designed to collect faces, voices, iris scans and fingerprints.

In the final Part 4, we will stare into the auspicious future of FaceID technologies. 

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