Not Paying Attention in Class? China’s “Smart Eye” Will Snitch on You

China’s mass surveillance operation has a new target: distracted high school students.

In March, Hangzhou Number 11 High School in east China installed a “smart classroom behaviour management system” (or “smart eye”) in one of its classrooms. The smart eye uses facial recognition technology to monitor students, and by this summer, administrators plan to install the Big Brother-esque system in every classroom.

Here’s how it works. Every 30 seconds, three cameras installed in the front of the room scan each student’s face to determine their expression: surprised, sad, antipathy, angry, happy, afraid, or neutral.

The cameras also record each student’s actions throughout the class, noting whether they are reading, listening, writing, standing up, raising hands, or leaning on the desk.

Smart eye then notifies the teacher in real-time if it notices that a student appears distracted. The teacher can also view a report at the end of the class that provides an average of each student’s expressions.

What else can surveillance cameras do in classroom other than exam supervision? High school in #Hangzhou uses camera to identify students facial expression for class performance analysis and improvement— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) May 16, 2018

Such technologies could also be present at eQualifai. Allowing an AI to look through your webcam could provide teachers with more in depth feedback on how students react to the material. Having access to information on emotions that students were experiencing during the class could help tutors improve and personalise their lessons for them.

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