The technology has dramatically cut down the length of time at check-in. (Supplied: Weibo (user 1887512564))
Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport has introduced automatic check-in using facial-recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial-recognition systems that has raised privacy concerns as China pushes to become a global leader in the field.
The city’s international airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial-recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Similar efforts are underway at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.
Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed-up security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted this week, is fully automated, according to Zhang Zheng, the general manager of the ground services department of Spring Airlines.
The low-cost airline is the first to adopt the system at the Shanghai airport, which is only available to Chinese identity-card holders.
“It is the first time in China [for an airline] to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” Mr Zhang said.
Spring Airlines said passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 per cent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on the first day using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute-and-a-half.
Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport has introduced a fully automated facial recognition check-in system. (Supplied: Weibo (Shanghai Hongqiao Airport))
Technology increasingly used in China
Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life.
Mainland police have used facial-recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and to nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance-camera data.
Chinese media is filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it is possible to pay using facial-recognition technology; a school that uses facial-recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.
But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the Government can use biometric data, according to Maya Wang, the senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” Ms Wang said.
“We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial-recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.”
China’s surveillance cameras are installed in many public areas. (Supplied: Dahua Technologies)