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China’s new 500-megapixel camera raises fears that facial recognition may reach another level

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China’s new 500-megapixel camera raises fears that facial recognition may reach another level

A new 500-megapixel cloud camera system produced in China and launched by a group of scientists is now raising fears in some quarters that facial recognition monitoring could soon reach a new disturbing level.

Reports say the camera is capable of capturing the facial details of each individual in a crowd of tens of thousands of people.

The camera, which was revealed at China’s International Industry Fair last week, was designed by Fudan University and Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The camera’s resolution is five times more detailed than the human eye, and it is also equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition, real-time monitoring and cloud computing technology, designers say.

All this means is that the camera can detect and identify human faces or other objects and instantly find specific targets even in a crowded stadium, Xiaoyang Zeng, one of the scientists who worked on the new technology, explained to reporters at the exhibition display.

He said this device — dubbed the “super camera” by local media — can capture both still images and record video.

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Australian freelance technology journalist Alex Kidman said the camera was technically feasible, but there were potential difficulties.

“The challenge for a camera of this scope, especially in a cloud-led AI environment is the quantity of data that’s needed to shuffle around for identification; as you raise the detail level of each image as the Fudan University scientists have done, you seriously raise the size of the files — especially for video — a substantial amount,” Kidman said.

“The serious technical challenge — leaving privacy concerns aside for a second — is in uploading that data and parsing it in a sensible timeframe for the kinds of applications they’re talking about, especially wirelessly.”

The capacity of such a camera has also raised concerns about privacy in a country already criticised for heavily monitoring its citizens.

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