Real-time facial recognition reported to be available on police body cameras by the fall

Body cameras with real-time facial recognition capabilities are currently being developed by several technology companies, in cooperation with police departments, and are expected to be ready for deployment by the fall, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Companies are working to add artificial intelligence to video surveillance and body cameras, which would allow them to match images captured of individuals with biometric data of a suspect or missing person downloaded from a database. The device would than alert the law enforcement officer of the match.

The technology is not yet available for purchase by police, but Motorola and Neurala are developing a product which is expected to be ready by the fall, according to the Journal. A sergeant at a Midwest police force trialing the Motorola technology told the Journal that his department is interested in acquiring the product when it becomes available.

Motorola says it has trained the AI algorithm with a diverse data set to make sure that it is unbiased, but the technology has drawn criticism from privacy advocates.

“All of the sudden we have lost our ability to be relatively anonymous in society, to be able to walk about without fear that the government is tracking our every move,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jennifer Lynch.

“There’s a finite pool of money to purchase this sort of thing and it is super controversial,” Daniel Zehnder, a retired Las Vegas police captain who ran the department’s body-camera program told the Journal. “Civil-liberties groups would certainly have many questions and issues with it.”

New York City’s facial recognition service currently identifies of suspects in video footage from a database of mugshots, with a peer review process to confirm the match. While the safeguards would not be present in a real-time system, former NYPD commissioner William Bratton points out that similar concerns were expressed when DNA testing was introduced, and have since subsided.

It was reported when the prototype device was in development that Neurala’s research was funded in part by DARPA.

Real-time facial recognition technology is in development for several applications from several companies, including Secure Planet, which recently announced a solution for border and access control.

Chinese police are also piloting panoramic body cameras with facial recognition.

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