China tests facial recognition at border crossing of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
- Facial recognition and fingerprint matching being tested at Zhuhai border crossing of world’s longest bridge
- AI-backed system can complete immigration clearance in under a second with up to 99.5 per cent accuracy, according to technology supplier Intellifusion
Hong Kong drivers travelling to the mainland via the newly opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge may in future leave their home return permits at home as the Chinese authorities test a combination of facial recognition and fingerprint analysis to speed up border crossings.
High-resolution cameras, fingerprint matching and thermal-scanning technology are now being deployed for one immigration lane at the border control in Zhuhai, according to Shenzhen-based artificial intelligence firm Intellifusion, which is supplying the technology.
The driver will be cleared to proceed if the fingerprints, facial image and car license-plate images match pre-registered information in the immigration database, without the need to show the ID card issued by mainland authorities to Hong Kong permanent residents for cross-border travel.
The new technology is expected to roll out soon for Hong Kong’s cross-border truck and bus drivers as their personal information, including fingerprints and facial images, are already stored in the mainland immigration system, Wang Jun, director of marketing solutions at Intellifusion, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
The scheme could also be expanded in future to private car drivers from Hong Kong if they register their information with mainland authorities before entry, he said, without giving a timeline.
How fast or widespread the technology will be rolled out depends on policies as “there are not many technical barriers,” Wang said. The clearance technology is co-developed by Intellifusion and Shenzhen CIMC Intelligent Technology.
The first cars and buses started crossing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Wednesday morning, a day after President Xi Jinping officially opened the 55km bridge, the world’s longest sea crossing.
Supporters of the project say the crossing will create opportunities and benefits under the “Greater Bay Area” – a national scheme linking 11 southern Chinese cities into an integrated economic and business hub – by putting the three cities within an hour’s drive of each other.
Besides the mega bridge, Intellifusion also provides technology enabling Shenzhen’s police to display the faces of jaywalkers on large LED screens at intersections, and send personal text messages telling them of their infractions.
Facial recognition is increasingly being used in China’s cities and border crossings to catch criminals.
First-tier Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai have already employed AI and facial recognition technology to regulate traffic and identify drivers who violate road rules.
In other law enforcement applications, police at the Zhengzhou East high speed rail station in Henan province have been equipped with smart glasses with facial recognition software that can identify wanted criminals, while Beijing police are using the world’s first surround-body camera with inbuilt facial recognition technology.
For the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Intellifusion’s clearance machines will be installed on both sides of the lane to cater to both mainland and Hong Kong drivers (Hong Kong is right-hand drive while the mainland is left-hand drive) and can automatically rise and descend to fit the hand position of the drivers.
An infrared thermal imaging camera is able to ensure that the person being inspected is a living person by measuring the body temperature, as opposed to, for example, a paper cut-out with a printout of a face. The thermal imaging doubles up as health quarantine control by measuring forehead temperatures to screen individuals with fever, according to the Shenzhen company.
Intellifusion said the AI-backed facial recognition can complete clearance within a second with an accuracy rate reaching 99.5 percent, which could vastly improve the efficiency of immigration clearance and reduce long queues at border crossings.