Facial Recognition in the Classroom

Mia Noel

A high school in Hangzhou, China is using a new form of facial recognition technology that scans students faces every 30 seconds. India’s capital, Delhi, has said they will implement surveillance cameras in all of their government schools. The school will allow parents to then live stream the footage from the classroom. The Hangzhou number 11 middle school will also be trialing the “Smart Classroom Behavior Management System”. This new technology analyzes and monitors students emotions and actions inside the classroom. The “intelligent classroom behavior management system,” according to Global Times, also records students’ attendance, and students’ faces are used to pay for canteen lunches and to borrow items from the library. This facial recognition technology is widespread in China and was mainly used to predict crime. There was an increase in security systems because there has been a rise in violence at Chinese kindergartens, and similarly, Beijing has made a requirement for all kindergartens to have a surveillance system. Cameras are used all over China to catch jaywalkers, find fugitives, track people’s hangout spots, and even predict crime.

This new technology lets teachers know what emotions their students are experiencing. Emotions are categorized asImage result for facial recognition one of the following: happiness, anger, confusion, fear, or distress. The cameras are placed above the blackboard in the front of the classrooms and scans the students’ pupils every 30 seconds to determine their emotions. This system also reads student activities such as reading, writing, sleeping, or asking questions. The Hangzhou Network reports that the system can alert a teacher if a student’s attention level falls below a certain point. One student said the system was having the desired effect. “Beforehand in some classes that I didn’t like much, sometimes I would be lazy and do things like take naps on the desk or flick through other textbooks. Since the school has introduced these cameras, it is like there are a pair of mystery eyes constantly watching me, and I don’t dare let my mind wander.” The technology can also monitor the classes attendance by checking all the students faces against a database. Additionally, it can be used to monitor the teachers and can help improve teaching techniques used.

Using this technology in classrooms has raised some privacy concerns. Hundreds of the channels live streaming the classroom footage were shut down last year. However, there are still some people who are afraid that they will no longer have the same privacy they did in these classrooms before the cameras were put into place. As stated by the school’s vice principal, privacy of the students is protected because none of the images are saved and all data is stored on a local server, not a cloud. Last year, the Chinese company Qihoo 360 shut down hundreds of its surveillance live streaming channels after an uptick in privacy concerns. These shut down channels streamed camera footage from several public locations including swimming pools, restaurants, and classrooms. The school’s vice principal tells the public that this new technology has improved student behavior, though the system has already prompted expressions of alarm on Chinese social media.Related image

China has around 170 million CCTV cameras, with 400 million more arriving over the next three years. Many of these new cameras coming in have some form of AI, including facial recognition. This type of facial recognition is much more common in China than anywhere else in the world. The technology is provided by Hangzhou based Hikvision Digital Technology, and the trialing of this facial recognition in the Hangzhou middle school represents one of its first real world deployments. These assessments of students emotions and activities are delivered to teachers by digital notifications. This technology has also begun to be implemented into glasses for the police force to use.