The Beijing metro system is piloting carriages equipped with cameras that can identify passengers that don’t wear face masks, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported today.

Why it matters: The pilot will contribute to Beijing’s coronavirus response, ensuring commuters follow guidelines about wearing masks in public.

Details: Some carriages running on metro line 6 in Beijing are equipped with high-resolution sensing cameras that transmit video data to an “intelligent system” for analysis, Xinhua said.

  • It is unclear what will happen to passengers who don’t wear masks.
  • The “intelligent system” monitors drivers to detect if they are fatigued or distracted, prompting them to focus with voice commands if necessary, the news agency said.
  • The system also identifies passengers in distress if they are waving for help or fainting, Xinhua said.
  • The carriages are equipped with 4K screens showing information about the train’s journey, stops and passenger traffic, Xinhua said.
  • The windows turn into screens once the carriage is moving showing “the location, subway map and 3D demonstration of the next station,” the news agency said.
  • Stations along the line have been set up with screens showing passenger density and air conditioning intensity of the different carriages on the incoming train, Xinhua said.

Context: Life in China is almost back to normal, after weeks of strict lockdown measures across the country. Authorities and the private sector have been working on technologies to control possible Covid-19 infections whilst normal life goes on.

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.