It seems as though police body cameras are becoming the “new normal” for both police officers and everyday citizens across the United States. Body cameras have the ability to become an impartial eyewitness to police encounters with citizens and have the power to back up the story provided by an officer in a disputed altercation, or perhaps point to alleged misconduct by an officer.
However, today’s body cameras are for the most part “dumb” units that simply record video and audio. But advances in technology could in the future bring live-streaming cameras and facial recognition to the cameras worn by police officers. This technology will of course add to acquisition costs for police departments, but it has the potential to make crime fighting even more effective in the process.
Imagine a real-time analyzing engine that is continually scanning faces as a police officer is walking down a street or through a crowd of people. If a known suspect (who is within the facial database) is spotted during this “camera sweep”, the officer (or officers) could move in to make an arrest or perhaps call in for backup in the case of extremely violent offenders.
“An obvious use case would be searching for a known cop killer” on the street, said Taser CEO Rick Smith. “We can’t expect an officer to not get that alert if there’s official information on this guy.”
Taser acquired machine vision startup Dextro earlier this year in an effort to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to using artificial intelligence to identify faces in police body cameras. Fast Company likens such live-streaming tech to Facebook Live for police departments.
“Particularly, in these kinds of events like the Boston Marathon, or the Paris attacks, people aren’t able to start accessing that information until later,” Smith continued. “We think that we can bring that to more and more real time.”
But of course, all of this raises privacy issues, which will have to be ironed out before such a system could be deployed in the United States. People in the United Kingdom are quite used to having their every move tracked (there are in excess of 6 million CCTV cameras in the country), but Americans are a bit more sensitive to their privacy rights.
What say you HotHardware readers, should U.S. police officers be equipped with such high-tech, real-time facial scanning to aid in nabbing the bad guys?