China has fully embraced facial recognition technology, previously making headlines with their own “Skynet” technology, a tech that uses facial recognition to monitor citizens and visitors. While this particular use of facial recognition tech has received criticism from foreign press and Chinese netizens alike, facial recognition has been used in other, more accepted ways like paying for items in stores and as a virtual boarding pass for airline flights. But now, the technology is being used again to monitor Chinese nationals as it is being employed in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, to monitor student attentiveness during class.
The high school has three cameras at the front of the classroom that scan the students’ faces every 30 seconds in order to analyze their facial expressions. Their moods – surprised, sad, antipathy, angry, happy, afraid, neutral- are then recorded and shown in real time to the teacher. The results are averaged during each class and are used to determine if a student is paying enough attention or not.
In this video by the Zhejiang Daily Press, you can see that the system also analyzes the actions of the students, actions which are also categorized, such as: reading, listening, writing, standing up, leaning on the desk, etc. An electronic screen displays a list of the students who seem to “not be paying attention:”
The high school’s Vice-Principal, Zhang Guanchao was sure to note that the teachers have used the data gathered so far to change their teaching methods.
Most of the students say that they have gotten used to the system, but one is quoted as feeling that “it is like there are a pair of mystery eyes constantly watching me, and I don’t dare let my mind wander.”