Students at the No. 11 Middle School in Hangzhou, China don’t find dozing off or getting distracted in class an easy task. A new facial recognition system scans their faces every 30 seconds in order to make sure that they are paying attention.
This is called the smart classroom behaviour management system and this new management system has recently been installed at a middle school. It is made up of three high-tech cameras that are placed above the blackboard and are constantly feeding information to and AI-powered software. This software scans the faces and expressions to see if the students are paying attention or lost in a world of their own.
The system is capable of reading seven different emotions which include neutral, sad, happy, angry, scared, disappointed, and surprised. The management system sends a notification to the teacher when it detects that the students are distracted during class. If the results are positive, the system could be installed all over China.
“Installing this management system is mainly to show kids where they are concentrating the hardest, and where the problems are.” one of the teachers at No. 11 Middle School told RFA. “It will indicate their levels of concentration in class, and in areas where they’re not concentrating, it will make it easier for the teacher to go over sections again.”
“Maybe some kids think that it will be watching them the whole time, but they are maybe making too much out of it, because they will feel pressured, but that’s not the point of it,” he added. “It’s about getting the children to learn properly the whole time they are in class.”
“Previously when I had classes that I didn’t like very much, I would be lazy and maybe take naps on the desk, or flick through other textbooks,” one student told Hangzhou.com. “But I don’t dare be distracted after the cameras were installed in the classrooms. It’s like a pair of mystery eyes are constantly watching me.”
It might sound like a good thing, but a number of people are speaking against it as well. “Is this a concentration camp? They are kids, not the target of dictatorship,” one person wrote on Weibo. “If I was still at school, I would not be able to concentrate on anything but that watching eye!” another Weibo user commented.
We will have to wait and see if the system spreads throughout the country or if it will be limited to this particular middle school. You can check out the video here.