A new surveillance system is being utilized to monitor students facial expressions, letting teachers know what emotions they are experiencing.
We have recently seen facial recognition technology applied to diverse uses. These include controlling smart homes and speeding up airport boarding. Now, a high school in Hangzhou City, China is using facial recognition technology developed by Hikvision Digital Technology in order to monitor student attentiveness. Hangzhou Number 11 High School is using cameras placed at the front of the classroom to scan students’ faces. The Hikvision software detects seven different facial expressions, including neutral, happy, sad, disappointed, angry, scared and surprised. After analysing the expressions, the system can determine whether the student is distracted or is paying attention. A display screen shows teachers the results in real time.
Chinese social media has been abuzz with negative comments about the system. However, school authorities believes that the new “smart eye” will help improve educational standards. According to Mr Ni, the school’s headmaster, students whose minds wander will be marked down. One student told Chinese news site Hangzhou.com, “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. But I don’t dare be distracted after the cameras were installed in the classrooms.”
The system is just the latest in the rapidly growing amount of surveillance that occurs in China. Closed-circuit cameras are already common in many Chinese schools and facial recognition cameras are used to gain entry to university dormitories and workplaces, to withdraw cash from ATM machines and even to buy food at restaurants. Despite the concerns over civil rights, Chinese leaders say the technology can be a catalyst for growth, defeating criminals, and creating better educational outcomes. Will facial recognition technology lead to safer and well-ordered societies?