Monday, July 16, 2018

"when I got the chance to see the world through the eyes of a [Chinese] police camera, it was oddly exhilarating"

The opportunity arose during a reporting trip to the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou several months ago. A colleague and I had traveled there to try to learn about facial recognition glasses that the police had been experimenting with ahead of the big Chinese New Year holiday.

When we first got to the city’s train station, a police officer gleefully likened the specs to a pair in “Mission Impossible.” But then press officials rebuffed requests to try them.


Within a few hours, we spied Shan Jun, a deputy police chief, who was demonstrating the glasses amid the crowds of travelers heading home for the holiday. It turned out they were still on display for news media, just the state-run kind that Beijing controls.

We tagged along and caught a break. Mr. Shan, who was affably holding court, gladly handed over the device to try.


Emboldened, I tried the glasses out on a group standing about 20 feet away. For a moment, the glasses got a lock on a man’s face. But then the group noticed me