China is rushing facial and voice recognition tech for pigs. Here's why.

In China, technology firms are working with the government to push voice and facial recognition to help pigs, many of which have been dying from a swine disease that's sweeping the country.

African swine fever has spread quickly through China in recent weeks, affecting the world's top pork producer and the reliability of supply for other nations.

Today, the government announced plans to divide its hog industry into five zones in an attempt to halt the swine fever's spread.

More on facial and voice recognition technology in the China swine story, from Sui-Lee Wee and Elsie Chen in the New York Times:

Chinese companies are pushing facial and voice recognition and other advanced technologies as ways to protect the country's pigs. In this Year of the Pig, many Chinese hogs are dying from a deadly swine disease, threatening the country's supply of pork, a staple of Chinese dinner tables.

So China's ebullient technology sector is applying the same techniques it has used to transform Chinese life — and, more darkly, that the Chinese government increasingly uses to spy on its own people — to make sure its pigs are in the pink of health.

"If they are not happy, and not eating well, in some cases you can predict whether the pig is sick," said Jackson He, chief executive officer of Yingzi Technology, a small firm based in the southern city of Guangzhou that has introduced its vision of a "future pig farm" with facial and voice recognition technologies.

China's biggest tech firms want to pamper pigs, too. Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, and, its rival, are using cameras to track pigs' faces. Alibaba also uses voice-recognition software to monitor their coughs.

Many in China are quick to embrace high-tech solutions to just about any problem. A digital revolution has transformed China into a place where nearly anything — financial services, spicy takeout, manicures and dog grooming, to name a few — can be summoned with a smartphone. Facial recognition has been deployed in public bathrooms to dispense toilet paper, in train stations to apprehend criminals and in housing complexes to open doors.

China's Tech Firms Are Mapping Pig Faces []

[IMAGE: A system made by Yingzi Techology, a small Chinese company, scanning a barn to recognize pig faces. PHOTO: Yingzi Technology]