Electric eye, in the sky, feel my stare, always there. These lyrics by the British heavy metal band Judas Priest were released in 1982 on their Screaming for Vengeance album. The song Electric Eye along with others like Youve Got Another Thing Comin and Bloodstone helped the album go from Gold in 1982, to Platinum in 1983, and finally to Double Platinum in 2001. The song references a satellite that watches our every move. If you Wikipedia the song Electric Eye you will find the following.
"Electric Eye" is an allusion to the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, in the use of the name of the pseudo-omnniscient satellite that watches over the community at all times. In this dystopia, the form of government is utterly totalitarian, and if citizens are caught rebelling in any manner, they "disappear".
So how close are we to having cameras focus on our day to day lives? While surveillance cameras have been around for some time now, we may be closer to the electric eye than you think.
Last spring hundreds of correctional officers gathered in West Virginia from all across the United States for annual training exercises. During a mock riot put on by the officers there were five cameras that watched the action of the potential inmates. Artificial software was used to analyze the images in order to recognize certain facial expressions, gestures, and patters of movement. When the two groups started to move towards each other the computer sent an alert (in this case it was a text message) to officers warning them of a potential incident. The alert also gave the officers the location of the potential problem. Unlike the book referenced by Wikipedia, the end result was not to make the acting officers disappear but rather help the officers keep an electric eye on the prison yard. Officers are human and sometime become distracted by other events taking place. The cameras will never blink, get tired, or distracted.
At the end of last year software designers began experiments in a hospital room at Ballett Medical Center in Cooperstown, N.Y. Three cameras were mounted, almost out of site, on the ceiling to monitor movements in the room in a special care unit where patients with severe pneumonia, heart attacks, and strokes are treated. The cameras, along with the software, track movement in and out of the room as well as the movement of the patient. The images that are delivered from the camera to the software can be programmed to recognize movements that indicate when a patient could be in a position of falling out of the bed. During one experiment a nurse walks in the room, washes her hands, checks the patient for bed sores and then heads for the door. A recorded womans voice is heard. Pardon the interruption. Please wash your hands. If the results of the experiments prove to be successful, more features can be added. For example, software that will analyze facial expressions for signs of severe pain.
I am not worried about disappearing if I disagree with the government (at least not yet), however I do believe we are getting closer to the point where computer software will interact with every part of our lives. Now we are creating software that recognizes body movements and facial expressions, or software that is designed to predict our next move, or analyze expressions for pain. Whats next? Are we going to wake up in the morning, have our picture taken, facial expression analyzed and our breakfast menu created base on how we look and feel? You never know!1 of 1 of 1 First | Prev | Next | Last |