Police may soon be suited with new technology that’s the stuff of civil-rights attorneys’ nightmares – body cameras with top-of-the-line technology that includes immediate facial-recognition capabilities.
Taser, the company known for forging full-steam-ahead in the field of body-mounted camera, just created a division for the development of artificial intelligence. And among its first hoped-for offerings will be cameras aimed at helping law enforcement officials identify objects, events and people that cross their paths, “both retroactively and in real time,” Vocativ reported.
How soon until the technology is available?
Taser just purchased for its new in-house AI division two computer vision companies – Dexter, based in New York, and Misfit, am outfit formerly owned by the watch maker Fossil. The idea behind the purchases was to power up Taser’s ability to develop technology that uses computerized automation and algorithms that could then be affixed to wearable devices. Such technology would save police the time currently needed to comb through hours of video footage.
Dextro already has algorithms that can search through video footage for specific objects, and that can identify certain actions, like a traffic stop. What’s needed though is the addition of specific search terms to allow for speedier finds on the feeds.
And for that, Taser thinks it’ll take about a year to fine-tune and develop.
In its final form, Taser estimates the new technology will reduce the amount of time it takes to sort out faces on video footage from about eight hours to less than two.
As the technology progresses, searches will be even speedier.
“To clarify, Dextro’s system offers computer vision techniques to identify faces and other objects for improving the efficiency of the redaction [process],” said Steve Tuttle, Taser’s vice president of communications, in Vocativ. “AI enables you to become more targeted when needed. [And that means] you can show where a face starts in a video … [but not] identify individual faces or people.”
But in the future, immediate identification of people police come into contact with is a distinct possibility.
Taser CEO Rick Smith said the company does want to expand the technology so that it serves as a “personal secretary” for police, allowing officers to identify individuals immediately based on voice recognition and imaging.
“Police officers are spending most of their time entering information into computers,” Smith said, Vocativ reported. “We want to automate all of that.”
Privacy advocates are concerned.
“We’re talking about a company making very far-reaching decisions about the use of emerging technologies in policing,” said Clare Garvie, an associate with Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology, to Vocativ. “It’s really an open question right now what controls will be put in place at the public agency level.”