China's New 500-Megapixel Camera Can Pick You out in a Crowd of Thousands

The new camera is capable of picking out one person in perfect detail in a huge crowd.
Chris Young

China is testing and using facial recognition extensively. It's being used to identify criminals and even monitor students. People can even make payments with a simple face scan.

The country's latest foray into the technology is a facial recognition 'super camera' capable of capturing “thousands of faces at a stadium in perfect detail."

The unveiling of the impressive camera, which can also locate "a particular target in an instant,” has led some critics to say it will be used to control the Chinese population.


120 million pixels

The new 500-megapixel resolution camera system, incredibly, is five times more detailed than the 120 million pixel resolution of the human eye.

In a stadium seating tens of thousands of people, the camera can take a panoramic photograph, giving a clear, perfectly detailed image of every unobscured human face in the crowd.

As The Global Times reports, the camera was developed by Shanghai-based Fudan University and Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Changchun (the capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province).

National defense

The photographs taken by this camera can be integrated with AI, facial recognition, real-time monitoring, and cloud computing technology to work as a compelling surveillance solution. Specific targets can be found in an instant, the report in The Global Times says.

In their report, Zeng Xiaoyang, one of the scientists in the research team, was quoted as saying that the police could use the system in the center of Shanghai to monitor crowds, find criminals, and prevent accidents.

An Orwellian reality?

While the camera is undoubtedly an impressive technological achievement, critics are pointing to the implications it has for privacy in China's society.

Australia's ABC News claims the camera could be used as part of China’s Black Mirror-like Social Credit System, currently in development. It's a program that tracks and assesses individual citizens. 

As the South China Morning Post points out, the country is already the most monitored in the world. This technology, while impressive from a purely technological point of view, eerily resembles Orwell's fictional Big Brother in 1984.

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