China’s top universities introduce in facial recognition to campus security


China’s top university, Peking University (PKU) has become the first to usher facial recognition technology to its campus, aiming the beef up the security of the university.

Students entering the campus through the southwest gate have to stop and get their faces scanned by a camera installed in the doorway and wait several seconds while their identity is verified by the facial recognition technology.

A student entering the campus using the facial recognition technology. /Photo via PKU

This allows students to enter the campus without a physical ID, a widely used method for decided who can and can’t be allowed to access a university’s campus.

According to the university’s computing center, this is actually not the first application of facial recognition at the university. To ensure class attendance, the university has been using facial recognition technology as the register.

However, different from the indoor application, the outdoor facial recognition technology needs to react to changes in light, and it also different to the standard one-on-one recognition tech. Instead, it searches through hundreds of thousands of photos in its database to find the one that matches the scanned face.

Photo via PKU

Following in PKU’s footsteps is its rival, Tsinghua University, which has also launched facial recognition at its doorways but only for guests. Tourists and other guests can apply for a visit with their ID a week earlier.

Recognized as evenly ranked among the country’s top universities, PKU and Tsinghua are two of the must-see sights in Beijing. During the public holidays, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock into the universities to see the academic and natural environment of the campuses.

A ticket gate utilizing facial recognition technology. /VCG Photo

The future of facial recognition tech could be bright in China. It has been a regular topic in the fields of finance, public security, education and transportation. According to Xinhua, Beijing’s subway will upgrade some of its ticket gates with the technology, intended for passengers to be allowed entry without needing physical tickets or apps on their phones.