here will be no more opportunities for taking a nap in class for students at one Hangzhou high school who are now being watched over constantly by an all-seeing and all-knowing eye on the wall.
A few classrooms at the Hangzhou No. 11 High School have recently been outfitted with the experimental “smart classroom behavior management system,” also known by its rather Orwellian nickname, the “sky eye” (天眼). School officials claim that this high-tech system of surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology is able to record and analyze student behavior, right down to their micro facial expressions.
In real time, the system can tell teachers which students are being attentive and which are slacking off. It can also gauge students’ emotions — if they are happy, sad, angry, or scared, and store this information for later analysis.
Less impressively, it can also take attendance.
In Chinese media reports about the new system, students at the high school are quoted as welcoming and giving their unanimous support for their new overseer, believing that it will help them all study and work harder in class.
“Before, I would sometimes take naps or flip through other textbooks in classes that I didn’t really like,” one student confessed. “But since the school installed the ‘sky eye,’ it’s like there are a pair of mysterious eyes always staring at me. Now I don’t dare slack off anymore.”
Of course, surveillance cameras being installed inside classrooms is nothing new in China. Last year, a Liaoning father raised a ruckus online about how his son’s primary school had decided to place cameras inside all of its classrooms and set up online feeds so that parents could always look in on how well their child was doing at school. The father ended up being stunned to find that he was the only parent who didn’t support this surveillance system.
However, this new level of technological sophistication does certainly appear to take classroom surveillance to another level. Even if the “sky eye” system does not actually perform quite as well as school officials have claimed, at the very least it will help prepare these kids for life after graduation — when they’ll constantly be under watch.
While China already has some 170 million CCTV cameras, it’s looking to install another 400 million or so in the next three years. These cameras will be able to match your ID card with your face and your face with your car, tracking your movements back one week, recording all of the people that you came into contact with.
The power of China’s facial recognition technology was demonstrated last month when cameras managed to pick out a fugitive at a Jacky Cheung concert in Nanchang that was attended by 70,000 people.
[Images via Sina News]