Wednesday 23 May 2018

Facial recognition tech to monitor if pupils pay attention

Stock image
Stock image

Neil Connor in Beijing

A Chinese school has installed facial recognition technology to monitor how attentive students are in class.

Every movement of pupils at Hangzhou Number 11 High School in eastern China is watched by three cameras positioned above the blackboard.

The "smart classroom behaviour management system", or "smart eye", is the latest highly-intrusive surveillance equipment to be rolled out in China, where leaders have rushed to use the latest technology to monitor the wider population.

The system has been installed in one classroom, but will be deployed across the school by the summer, headmaster Ni Ziyuan said.

Some students are already changing their behaviour due to the increased monitoring.

"Previously when I had classes that I didn't like very much, I would be lazy and maybe take naps on the desk, or flick through other textbooks," one student told Hangzhou.com, a news website run by the central government.

"But I don't dare be distracted after the cameras were installed in the classrooms. It's like a pair of mystery eyes are constantly watching me."

The system works by identifying different facial expressions from the students, and information is then fed into a computer which assesses if they are enjoying lessons or if their minds are wandering.

The computer will pick up seven different emotions, including neutral, happy, sad, disappointed, angry, scared and surprised. If it concludes the student is distracted with other thoughts, it will send a notification to the teacher to take action.

Many Chinese have grown accustomed to their privacy being infringed by the government and corporations, but people have been expressing horror about the new system on Chinese social media.

"If I was still at school, I would not be able to concentrate on anything but that watching eye!" said one comment.

Irish Independent

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