Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From grainy CCTV to a positive ID: Recognising the benefits of surveillance

This from the UK Independent (via @demuxdispatches): " ... Your identity is manifest in many different ways.” Ears, eyes, foot steps – all can be used to identify people. Even your heartbeat can betray who you are, and it can be detected from a distance without requiring contact with the body.

For those wearing masks or scarves over their faces, there are still plenty of ways computers can identify them. Much of the research has been carried out in the “biometrics tunnel” built in Prof Nixon’s department.

It’s a facility that requires a lot of technical expertise and patience – as Dr Carter tells us: “I’ve spent the last three months tracking down a fault in a cable.”

As I wander down it, eight cameras film my strides from a variety of angles against multicolour backgrounds, allowing electronic silhouettes and a 3D virtual model of my body to be constructed by a computer. The distance between my feet, knees, hips, shoulders and head are measured and the pattern of their motion analysed. Were I suspected of a crime, police would then be able to compare my gait profile to information gathered from CCTV footage of the incident – either eliminating me from their enquiries or encouraging them to delve deeper.

“We helped in a conviction of a bagsnatcher who robbed somebody,” says Prof Nixon. “He’d covered up his face with a motorbike helmet, that withheld his DNA, as there was no spit or breath. He wore gloves, so there were no fingerprints left – everything was covered up. But he still ran. We used images of him and presented images to the judge.”

Some of the work in the new centre will go into online identification. Keystroke analysis, looking at the minute differences in timings and patterns between different computer users’ typing mannerisms, is under development ..."

Continue reading the article by clicking here.

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