In these days of heightened security and precautions, surveillance cameras watching over us as we cross darkened parking lots or looking over our shoulders at airports may seem reassuring, but they’re only of use if someone is watching them. Researchers at the University of Rochester’s computer science laboratories have found a way to give these cameras a rudimentary brain to keep an eye out for us, and the research is already been licensed to a Rochester company with an aim toward homeland security.
“Compared to paying a human, computer time is cheap and getting cheaper,” says Randal Nelson, associate professor of computer science and creator of the software “brain”. “If we can get intelligent machines to stand in for people in observation tasks, we can achieve knowledge about our environment that would otherwise be unaffordable.”
Far from being an electronic “Big Brother,” the software would only focus on things for which it was trained to look—like a gun in an airport, or the absence of a piece of equipment in a lab. Nelson has even created a prototype system that helps a person find things around the house, such as where reading glasses were left.
Jonathan Sherwood | University of Rochester
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