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Having trouble discerning one furry panda from another? A facial recognition app will make it easy for you.
The app is developed by the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding along with researchers in Singapore Nanyang Technological university and Sichuan Normal University.
“You no longer need to worry about making the pandas angry by calling them by the wrong name,” the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding wrote on Weibo, as it announced its new “giant panda facial recognition” app.
Visitors to the panda base in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, one of China’s top tourist attractions, will be able to scan the panda’s face with the mobile app to get information about that particular bear.
“It’s good news for those with ‘face blindness’ for giant pandas,” the research base said in its statement announcing the breakthrough.
The image analysis research kicked off in 2017. A database now contains about 120,000 images and 10,000 video clips of giant pandas.
Close to 10,000 panda pictures have been analyzed, marked and annotated.
Using the database, researchers are able to carry out automatic facial recognition on panda faces to tell one animal from another, the center said.
It’s not just a gimmick for tourists, though. Researchers say the technology will help them analyze data on pandas both in captivity and the wild.
"The app and database will help us gather more precise and well-rounded data on the population, distribution, ages, gender ratio, birth and deaths of wild pandas, who live in deep mountains and are hard to track," said Chen Peng, a researcher with the base who co-authored a paper on "Giant Panda Face Recognition Using Small Database."
"It will definitely help us improve efficiency and effectiveness in conservation and management of the animals," Chen said.
China has carried out four scientific field research project of giant pandas in the wild.
The number of captive pandas was 548 globally as of November last year. Fewer than 2,000 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi.
Facial recognition technology is widely used in China.
Police picked a wanted fugitive out of a crowd of 60,000 people at a pop concert in the city of Nanchang last year. In the city of Zhengzhou, billboard-size screens show the faces of jaywalkers.
Some public restrooms in Beijing use facial recognition to limit the amount of toilet paper dispensed to each person, while a KFC outlet in Hangzhou has rolled out a “Smile to Pay” system.