Suspect Technologies raises $800K and plans launch of public surveillance facial recognition products

Facial recognition software startup Suspect Technologies has closed an $810,000 funding round, and plans to launch new suspect and watch list identification products over the next year, Xconomy reports.

The venture round was led by celebrity investor Mark Cuban and Chaac Ventures. Cuban had the company’s technology installed at the entrance to the locker room of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, which he owns, after making a previous investment. Suspect Technologies hopes to grow from six employees, four of them full time, to 10 employees in the first half of 2019, and to raise a larger funding round next year.

Suspect Technologies was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2015 by Jacob Sniff and MIT researcher Srikanth Parupati, and provides facial redaction software to police body camera makers. It is about to launch a new version of its software which identifies suspects from compiled video surveillance footage, and is also planning to pilot a real-time service for public surveillance video feeds in 2019. The next-generation software converts file types from diverse camera manufacturers to one format for searching, helps police go frame-by-frame to find the best image of a suspect, and render video at high speeds to be exported for trial use or public release.

“We have an agency early adopter, his conception is he’s going to have 10 facial recognition cameras in town: one in the police station lobby, some at the Greyhound bus locations, city hall, even the public pool area,” says Sniff. “He’s going to be scanning people’s faces against a small public watch list.”

The company says its software is in use by a couple hundred law enforcement agencies.

Sniff tells Xconomy that the company takes privacy seriously, and predicts that the public will get used to facial scans by law enforcement, advertisers, and tech companies. “There is going to be a point in time when the privacy concerns die,” he says. “It’s weird to think about it now, but it’s happening—and it’s happening rapidly.”

Despite Skiff’s confidence, the public use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies remains controversial, with U.S. congressional representatives recently requesting an inquiry into the possible violation of civil rights safeguards, and a growing chorus of calls from industry and academia for regulation.

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