New 500-Megapixel Camera Makes Crowd Facial Recognition Possible

By Bill Toulas / September 30, 2019

In the same time that San Francisco deemed facial recognition illegal and the EU plans to regulate the massive surveillance technology, the Chinese are taking things to the next level. Scientists from the Changchun Institute of Optics of the Fudan University worked together with a team from the Fine Mechanics and Physics and created a 500-megapixel camera. This new “super camera” was explicitly developed for surveillance purposes. It is capable of shooting panoramic photos that capture thousands of people at once while maintaining an adequate resolution that allows an AI facial-recognition system to identify the depicted people.

super camera


To put things into perspective, the equivalent resolution of the human eye is 120 Megapixel, so we’re talking about something that is more than four times higher than that. With this system, one could take an image of a stadium filled with thousands of people, and then figure out whether a specific person is there or not. This capability is absolutely unheard of, and we see how the newest technology can have a fundamental impact on our privacy. Cameras like this one could potentially capture images from afar, so the monitored and profiled citizens wouldn’t even know about it.

This isn’t worrying for Chinese people only, as this technology is bound to find application elsewhere too. The UK is embracing facial recognition systems, with its police putting them to aggressive application. Similarly, India is planning to build a facial recognition system that would cover the entire country, and the United States are also positive with the prospect of these surveillance systems at the national level. Super cameras like the above are key to making the facial recognition systems in these countries both powerful and discreet at the same time. They can be placed somewhere outside the field of view of the citizens and left to fulfill their role seamlessly.

However, this is not the end of the story. The Chinese authorities envision a cloud camera network, with super-high-resolution images and videos being uploaded onto a remote data center, and the surveillance agencies populating a massive database of people’s faces. This would help to access that data at any time in the future, checking the presence of a particular person at a specific date and time, sharing the info with other entities, and training facial recognition AI systems.

Are you worried about facial recognition systems gaining such capabilities? Let us know of your thoughts in the comments section down below, or join the discussion on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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