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Facial recognition used in exhibit highlighting government surveillance

Architecture & Design

Designer Carlo Ratti has turned a part of a Chinese train station into an interactive experiment on the role of AI, cameras and smart technology in public spaces

Spotted: A China-based exhibition, curated by Italian designer Carlo Ratti, explores the increased use of smart technology in urban planning. The exhibition — Eyes of the City — encourages people to think about the increased role of surveillance in public spaces. 

The exhibition urges visitors to interact with the facial recognition technology placed in Futian train station in Shenzhen, China. The location is an important part of the experiment, underscoring the increased use of smart technology to identify travellers.

Sixty international contributors created installations for the exhibition. Their work probes into how technology impacts upon urban life, with a focus on the role of sensors in public places. 

Visitors to the exhibition have their faces scanned at two points, on opposite ends.  Unlike within modern smart cities, however, the cameras and other technology are highlighted and emphasised, instead of hidden, so that visitors can see how and where the tracking takes place. They can also opt to remain anonymous. 

The exhibition, part of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, was installed on-site, to reduce its carbon footprint. Blueprints for the installations will eventually be posted online so that the exhibition can be held elsewhere in the future. 




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