Saturday, October 30, 2010
Surveillance Society - Remote Cameras That Sense Anger
A British firm is hawking software that will allow surveillance cameras to listen in, analyze the pitch, tone and intonation of noises and determine whether they reveal some type of threat. The idea is that the monitors will be able to tell if you're being aggressive or attacked and then alert authorities.
Not only is Big Brother going to be constantly watching you, now he'll be listening to boot. Who knows just how far this fledgling listening technology can and will evolve? From BBC News:
"A lot of incidents just can't be picked up by video only systems," said Chris Mitchell, Audio Analytic's boss, on BBC World Service's Digital Planet.
"For example in a hospital where somebody, or a nurse, is being threatened early hours in the morning - that's a very difficult thing for CCTV guards who monitor hundreds of channels worth of video signals on 20 screens or so to pick up."
The software goes beyond simply placing microphones onto cameras and listening in. By feeding hundreds of sample sounds into the system, the software can distinguish different threats from various sounds - and not just based on volume.
As always it's not the technology that's really the problem but rather the manner in which it can be abused, the improper ends to which it can be turned. I'm sure it would be great, say at hospital parking lots where nurses coming off shift in the middle of the night can be at increased risk. But, as always, quis custodiet ipsos custodes, who watches the watchers?