A while ago I wrote about facial recognition software being used for client identification at ATMs and to apprehend scallywags out in public. But of course technology does not stand still, and one of the shortcomings of facial recognition software is that it has to have a fairly clear view of, well, your face. If you’re wearing sunglasses or a wintry hat/scarf combo, or maybe just looking a bit ropy after a long flight or heavy night, the system cannot identify you. But what does not change, no matter how hot, cold or overly-refreshed you may be, is the way you walk. And now those clever programming people have come up with “gait recognition” software.
I can see the sense in this, from personal experience. When I was a child it was a great treat to go to the airport to collect my father after one of his business trips. Peering from behind the barriers I could always spot him a mile away because of his stiff-legged walking style – rather like Mister Benn, for those of you of a certain vintage – and the “teapot” way in which he leaned over to one side (straight-legged all the while, with the other arm out for balance) to pick up his suitcase. Absolutely unmistakable. And I have been told that I have a distinctive gait myself, thanks in part to a badly-mended broken foot (larking about at school and didn’t dare confess the injury) that makes one leg turn out a bit. You’ll all be staring if you ever meet me.
Talking note of this (no, not my leg specifically) Chinese firm Watrix has developed a gait recognition system that, it says, fills a gap in biometric identification, as it can work at a distance of up to 50 metres with an average recognition rate of 94% – and it doesn’t care whether you are walking towards the camera or away from it, and whether you have your face on show or not. It can also work in low lighting and – it’s hard to see how this might concern the financial sector but you never know – can identify animals other than humans. Of course, quite how it would cope with the men from the Ministry, I am not sure.