Chinese police using Watrix gait biometrics as company plans major funding round

Gait recognition technology from Watrix has already been tested by police in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing, and the company has now launched version 2.0 of its biometric software, which supports real-time identification for mega-city deployments, the South China Morning Post reports.

The company says its technology can identify individuals up to 50 meters away by analyzing characteristics such as the angle of arm movement, foot angle, and body contour. Watrix Co-founder and CEO Huang Yongzhen told the SCMP the technology has an advantage over facial recognition for law enforcement because cooperation, such as looking at the camera, is not necessary. He also said its accuracy is up to 96 percent from the 94 percent the company reported when it announced $14 million in pre-A Series funding in October. A person could reduce the confidence score by covering the legs, but the system would still work by analyzing the person’s upper body. Watrix also offers facial recognition for dual biometric systems.

The company has a database of wanted criminals with recorded gaits taken from a larger database of 30,000, and is currently working with police on criminal investigations, according to Huang. Gait recognition could also potentially be used by nursing homes to anticipate or react quickly to falls, by hospitals for diagnosing neural issues, or in physiotherapy and sports training.

Huang notes that the gait technology Watrix uses was incubated at the Chinese Academy of Sciences after being inspired by a U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) study.

“DARPA is like a wind vane in technology. Whatever projects it works on serve both social and national interests,” he says.

Watrix is currently in talks with security companies in Singapore, India, Russia, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, according to the report, and plans to raise another 200 million to 300 million yuan (US$28 to 42 million) in an upcoming funding round.

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