The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: gait recognition

Episode 40 – Gait Recognition

by Ethan Barr

People walking on a city sidewalkIn this podcast I bring awareness to the future of surveillance, through gait recognition, while also describing the way it has developed over the recent years. This idea of being identifiable through the way you walk brings up the questions of whether it is an intrusion to one’s privacy or strictly a moral form of surveillance. These questions are left unanswered in the podcast, but through the information available to you, as the audience, think about the stance and how you perceive this type of surveillance. I wanted this podcast to draw those thoughts by being informative and interesting. I hope this podcast can get you thinking about the way you are being watched and how easily identifiable everyone may be in the near future.


Giles, J. (2012, September 19). Cameras know you by your walk. New Scientist. Retrieved from

Kang, D. (2018, November 06). Chinese ‘gait recognition’ TECH Ids people by how they walk. Associated Press. Retrieved from

Xu, S. (2020, August 5). Emotion Recognition From Gait Analyses: Current Research and Future Directions (Rep.). Retrieved from

Schmelzer, R. (2020, July 1). Can AI Detect Your Emotion Just By How You Walk? Forbes.

Image: Just Walk on By,” Alexa Clark, Flickr, CC BY-NC

The Science behind Ditching School

One of the most interesting passages from Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother was Marcus’s in-depth description of his escape from his prison like school. It was not, however, the clever routes nor the email blasts sent to distract the school narc that fascinated me, rather, it was the technology the school used to identify each student in the hallways and Marcus’s clever techniques to evade it.

You might have seen the implementation of Gait Recognition software in popular movies such as Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, but I doubt you know the extent of its application. In the novel, Marcus describes how courts had deemed it unconstitutional for the Schools to place cameras in the hallway to monitor the students, so, as an end-around, they had put in gait recognition cameras. Marcus details how the cameras pick up a student’s “gait” or manner of walking and catalog them in a database with a profile. He goes on to explain how each person has their own unique stride length, pace, and dip in their step which makes the system extremely efficient.

The pitfalls in the schools security are exactly those plaguing the advances in gait recognition software today. Developers of these technologies struggle to keep results consistent as a person’s natural gait can change slightly in regards to footwear, clothing, and even emotional state. The benefits of being an unobtrusive surveillance device also lend to its potential inaccuracies. Marcus, being the intelligent 17 year old he is, quickly realizes this fact.

Marcus and his friends realize that by pouring a few pieces of gravel into their shoes they can make the software unsure enough to where it will not sound an alarm and also not be able to match his gait with his profile. Throughout the novel as his city becomes more like a police state, Marcus uses this technique to evade detection against an intelligent recognition software.

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