Wednesday, August 01, 2007

How about facial recognition from more than two miles away!

I was researching the convergence of various industries (robotics, security, etc) with geospatial trends...and a real wow popped out...from an article back in April 2004. Since then silence:

The U.S. Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab (UAVB) has tested software that can pick desired features out of UAV video long before they become visible to the naked eye, according to Lt. Col. Timothy Cook, chief of the UAVB's Combat Applications Division. Based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the UAVB's mandate is to take existing hardware and weapons and integrate them with UAVs. The recognition software originally was developed for the Nevada gaming industry, to automatically spot problem gamblers when they enter casinos, Cook said. "It's based on the dimensions of your face," he said. "If I trained the camera on your face, it would plot the distance between the pupils of your eyes ... the length of your nose, the width of your mouth."

Intrigued by the possible applications to UAV surveillance video, the UAVB conducted a test last year at Eglin using streaming video from a Pointer UAV. A captain's face was entered into the computer as a search item, and the UAV was launched. "It starts beeping on this clump of trees," Cook said. "And they had to drive the UAV about another two miles before they could get close enough [to see] there was a vehicle underneath the trees." The captain whose face had been loaded into the computer was sitting in his truck eating lunch. "It found his face through the trees, through the windscreen, in the shadows of the trees, and we went, 'Wow, we need to explore this,'" Cook said. While the UAV Battlelab continues to pursue the Digital Imagery and Video Object Tracking software's application to operations, the technology also has found its way into the classified world, Cook said

THOUGHTS: Can you imagine how much more sophisticated the application is now after 3 years. Facial recognition via satellite? It's ironic that such technology might drive male combatants in the Middle East to wearing burqa's.

KEYWORDS: Facial recognition, UAV, intelligence, software