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Alibaba speech and facial recognition tech to be deployed in Shanghai subway system


Speech and facial recognition technologies developed by Alibaba will be deployed in Shanghai subway system, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

Alibaba and Shanghai Shentong Metro Group said this week that the Metro would install “far-field” speech recognition technology in ticket machines in all stations, as well as facial recognition systems at station entrances to verify commuters identities.

According to Yan Zhijie, director of intelligent speech recognition at Alibaba’s Institute of Data and Science Technology, far-field speech recognition technology enables accurate communication with a smart device from a distance of up to five metres, even in extremely noisy public areas like subway stations. Passengers would be able to tell their destination to ticket machines, and the machines would then recommend the best route.

According to a company statement, the collaboration with Shanghai Metro marks the first time Alibaba has used its systems in the transport industry. No launch dates were given.

Shanghai Metro’s network of 367 stations accounts for 53 per cent of all public transport in the city. Average weekday traffic on the Shanghai Metro stands at 10.65 million individual trips.

Just last week, Bloomberg reported that Alibaba is in discussions to invest about $227M USD and become the largest backer of Chinese facial recognition firm SenseTime.

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