At a time when 3D-printed masks and faked fingerprints made with tools as low-tech as transparent film can potentially fool security and authentication systems built with these biometric recognition features, a Chinese tech firm has come up with a more secure, apparently “un-fakable” solution: gait analysis.

Beijing-based Watrix has rolled out a unique gait-recognition algorithm that, when incorporated into China’s ubiquitous closed-circuit television cameras, can search for targets to help public-security authorities identify and track down suspects.

The system can analyze in real time people’s posture as they walk past a CCTV camera and track targets for at least 50 meters.

Like a person’s face and fingerprints, his gait is unique and is almost impossible to be faked or mimicked by anyone else.

With powerful machine learning, the Watrix system can analyze anyone’s gait and spontaneously establish a profile so he can be identified instantly the next time he is caught on any CCTV camera.

As a systematic study of human body movements, body mechanics, and the activities of muscles, gait analysis first emerged in the medical and sports professions.

A basic gait analysis encompasses a host of perimeters and factors including step length, stride length, cadence, speed, dynamic base, progression line, foot angle, hip angle, and squat performance.

Proce
Gait analysis relies on a number of cameras taking footage of a person as well as an algorithm capable of analyzing a target’s movements in real time. Photo: Handout

Watrix chief executive officer Huang Yongzhen told the People’s Daily that gait analysis could be more flexible than facial recognition, capable of identifying targets from any angle, regardless of whether they cover their faces, wear different clothes or are walking in the dark.

“A suspect may never be aware that he has been tracked by the system until he is hunted down,” Huang said.

Watrix has already inked deals with public-security departments in Beijing, Shanghai and a dozen other provinces and municipalities, expecting to rake in revenue of more than 132 million yuan (US$19 million) this year.

Security officials in the restive northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region have also expressed interest in trialing the system,

There is also a highly portable device to record and analyze people’s gaits.

Gait analysis could be the next frontier when Beijing applies new technologies in intelligence gathering and fending off spies.

The 2015 action spy movie Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation featured gait analysis, in a scene where a technical field agent must infiltrate a facility that uses gait-analysis software as part of its security protocol.

Read more: Fingerprint security falls foul of simple tricks