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Big Brother may now single you out from the masses

Published time: March 24, 2012 10:14
Edited time: March 24, 2012 17:36
A worker performing routine maintenance on a surveillance camera (AFP Photo / Valery Hache)

A worker performing routine maintenance on a surveillance camera (AFP Photo / Valery Hache)

Blending into the background may become a thing of the past. A new Japanese security camera has the ability to search millions of faces with one click. An image captured on the Orwellian invention can also search other databases to track people.

­Representatives from device’s creators Hitachi say the camera uses image-recognition software in combination with algorithms that group similar faces together to create a thumbnail photo of a person.

Where before authorities would have spent hours trawling through CCTV footage, an individual can now be found in the blink of an eye. The camera can search a staggering 36 million faces in less than a second for a match of the thumbnail photo.

Furthermore, once the image is saved it can be used to search other databases for a match.

Despite the technology’s undeniable potential for surveillance purposes, it does have a few limitations. Namely, it can only scan faces within a 30 degree angle of the camera and the images must be 40x40 pixels in size.

“We think this system is suitable for customers that have a relatively large-scale surveillance system, such as railways, power companies, law enforcement, and large stores,” says Hitachi.

The camera is expected in appear on the market next year and provides governments with a tremendous scope for keeping tabs on their citizens.

Information is freely and widely available on the internet, so it seems the challenge is no longer the acquisition of data, but processing it.

In this respect the camera is reminiscent of the FBI’s new initiative that will allow them to automatically filter information from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The system, reportedly under development, highlights key information and threats and displays it in a map format.

The information gathered through social networking internet sites will then be amalgamated with additional data such as US domestic and worldwide terror intelligence, US embassies and military installations and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.


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