LONDON, March 24 (Xinhua) -- For those who are worried that the face-recognition cameras at every street corner may invade their privacy, there could be another cause for concern -- a camera that keeps track of people's feet.
Amid concerns that face-recognition cameras "are kind of invasive," British retail analysis firm Hoxton Analytics has come up with a novel way of measuring footfall - literally by filming people's shoes.
The system can deduce a remarkable amount of information such as age, gender and social class of shoppers from their footwear,the BBC report on Thursday.
"We have cameras at about 50 cm off the ground and it points down so it is less invasive than facial recognition," Duncan Mann, the chief operating officer at Hoxton Analytics, was quoted as saying by the BBC.
It is surprisingly accurate. It spots the correct gender 80 percent of the time, better than some facial recognition technologies, according to Mann.
The face-recognition cameras coupled with the new feet-tracking cameras are certainly something to worry about.
As more than 66 percent of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2050, a massive campaign to install CCTV cameras in every street corner has already begun.
The London-based security firm IHS suggest that there were 245 million professionally installed video surveillance cameras active and operational globally in 2014 and more cities are turning to monitoring technology to help reduce crime and anti-social behavior, the BBC reported.
The CCTV cameras have significantly reduce crime rates in Mexico City by 48 percent Mexico City after 15,000 security cameras were installed, according to the security firm Thales. But some people are not happy with these cameras as far as their privacy is concerned.
Citing the example of Google which is currently using Google Map data to assess the traffic flow in Stockholm as part of its Better Cities programme, Nick Millman, managing director at consultancy firm Accenture, thinks the key to solving the privacy issue is to control statistics.
"It is using what is known as differential privacy," he was quoted as saying by the BBC, adding that "It is basically adding privacy controls to statistics so that you only see the data you need to know about."
In the case of Stockholm, that means Google can retrieve sufficient data to improve traffic flow but not so much that it reveals individual journey patterns, according to the BBC.