In China’s latest dystopian move, a state news agency has detailed the deployment of “intelligent” school uniforms that feature tracking technology. The uniforms were first launched in some schools in 2016 and have recently been adopted by another 10 school facilities, according to the report, which says the uniforms work alongside facial recognition technology installed within the facilities.
The information comes from Global Times, a state news publication in China. The report bills the uniforms as the use of technology to curb truancy. Built-in tracking technology keeps tabs on each student’s location and attendance, gathering data that is made available to teachers and parents.
In addition, the uniforms feature an “automatic voice alarm” that is triggered if the student attempts to leave the school grounds without prior authorization. Schools anticipate attempts to get around the technology and are using facial recognition technology installed in school doors to detect whether students have swapped uniforms.
The report claims the system involves a pair of chips that are sewn into the shoulders on each uniform; they can handle 500 wash cycles before needing replaced. The company behind the technology admits that the chips can be used to track the location of the students (or, at least, the uniforms) at all times, including outside of school hours.
The firm tries to dismiss privacy concerns by stating that officials won’t monitor the “accurate location” of students after school. It doesn’t appear there’s anything that can stop students from being tracked beyond school hours if officials choose to do so, however, joining facial recognition glasses and a social credit system as China’s latest disturbing trend.