Surveillance and 3D Facial Recognition Technology

The challenge for surveillance technology is not just to find a face in the crowd but to find individuals anywhere on the globe before they cause harm. Unfortunately no simple camera can achieve this task. Scientists are aware of the limitations of the standard two dimensional facial recognition system and so are taking surveillance into another dimension and combining this system with satellite tracking.The three dimensional system holds great promise for future criminal investigations.

There are two critical limits to closed circuit television surveillance. Even though the cameras in casinos throughout the the world can read the serial number on a dollar bill from forty foot ceilings, you have to know who you are looking for and you have to have a human watching every screen every minute of every day. The standard two dimensional facial recognition system still relies on high quality images and human decision making. While it can see through basic disguises it cannot identify people from the side.

Scientists are developing a new surveillance system that takes three dimensional facial recognition imagery to help identify people from virtually any angle. The aim of the research being robotics carried out is to teach the computers what a face looks like from all angles. Together the cameras create a composite image using more than 64,000 individual points to make a full face. The completed 3D image is called an avatar and researchers can reposition the image to a frontal view to compare it to a database of faces. The hope is that someday criminals will be identified from any angle.

This new technology will more than likely be utilized with smart cameras which could actually find faces and run them through a map system. Let us assume that the face of a wanted man is entered into the facial recognition database and the global man hunt begins. Facial recognition software is linked to countless number of web cameras placed on streets and buildings in cities around the world. These cameras scan for a glimpse of the subject and when successful a sensor responds alerting authorities to the scene to make the arrest. The technologies for such a scenario already exist and when combined it will be nearly impossible for an undisguised face to go undetected.

While facial recognition technology is advancing the future of surveillance is not just identifying what you look like on the outside. Companies and governments are capable of feeding small details about our daily lives into massive databanks. The technique is called data mining and this information and much more is available to those who know how to look. It is the millions of tiny little bits of information that can be used to create a digital profile image of ourselves.

It is comforting to know that the technology exists to protect us but it is wrong and very disturbing if it used to invade the peoples privacy. Nearly every technology we use leaves an electronic trail and surveillance in the 21st century means picking up on those trails which are very precise and as most of us are creatures of habit, very predictable. Some people determine that the existence of this technology is a violation of their rights and liberties. Unfortunately this is a post 911 world and life has changed.

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