China Focus: Facial recognition ensures smooth travel during holiday

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-05 23:17:26|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JINAN, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- During the National Day holiday, many Chinese travelers are enjoying smoother travel experiences thanks to pilot programs using face recognition to replace IDs checks at railway stations, hotels, banks and restaurants.

At the entrances to Jinan railway station in the capital of Shandong Province, passengers put their ID cards and tickets on the gate machines and infrared cameras scan their faces before allowing them into the station.

The station no longer has staff checking the tickets and ID cards of passengers. Queues at the entrances moved smoothly using the new system.

"It only takes three seconds for passengers to pass through the gate using the new facial recognition system. It saves manpower and avoids errors in manual checks," said Cheng Xiaowei, a staff member at the station.

Many hotels in Jinan have also adopted a facial recognition system to check guests' identities. The system takes just 10 seconds to confirm the identity of the guest. Even if a hotel guest does not have their ID card, the system can still confirm their identity.

At three Agricultural Bank of China branches in the city, customers no longer need to insert their bank cards into ATMs to withdraw money. The machine scans the account holder's face to access their account. The bank has limited the daily withdrawal amount to 3,000 yuan (452 U.S. dollars).

Longmen Grottoes in central China's Henan Province has become the country's first scenic spot using the facial recognition system for entrance. The technology cuts time for tourists passing through from three seconds to one.

Through the grottoes' mini app on the WeChat app, tourists can buy an electronic ticket and create a pass by taking a head photo and enter their personal information. Then they can just "walk in" at the special entrance.

Diners at a new KFC outlet, called KPro, in Hangzhou of east China's Zhejiang Province are able to pay by scanning their faces at an ordering kiosk and entering a phone number.

"Maybe in the future, I don't need to bring my cell phone anymore when going out. I just need my face," said tourist Huang Zhengyu who experienced the "Smile to Pay" method.

"Young people prefer facial recognition and it has great potential. More applications of the technology will come to our lives as it continues to improve," said Feng Wei from Shandong University.

A report on global artificial intelligence by investment company Sequoia Capital and ZhenFund, a Beijing-based seeding company, showed that about 15,000 patents have been made public in computer vision, 55 percent are from China.

China's Forward-looking Industry Institute says that the facial recognition market in China surpassed 1 billion yuan (about 150 million U.S. dollars) in 2016, and is expected to hit 5.1 billion yuan by 2021.

SenseTime, a Chinese startup focusing on facial recognition and AI deep learning, raised 410 million U.S. dollars in July. It is the largest private financing round ever closed by an AI startup.