Jamie's Blog

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lip reading surveillance cameras in the UK

The Home office of the UK is interested in creating a software system to read lips through the many surveillance cameras that blanket the UK. The UK already has the most extensive and intrusive system of surveillance cameras in the world. It is estimated that the total number of surveillance cameras in the UK is around 4 million. That is roughly 1 camera for every 14 people who live in the UK. Recently work was begun on upgrading many of those cameras to include speakers that will scold or shout at you if you break a law. Such as littering or jaywalking.
Now a British research team at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England is working on a computer system that will be able to lip read. The idea being, that not only suspicious behavior can be monitored through the cameras, but also suspicious speech.
While I could see a system like this being very useful in crime prevention, I'm not sure I would like it if the US was deploying the same type of thing here. It seems like this type of thing would be too much of a temptation for unscrupulous politicians. The potential for abuse here is very high. Of course, it is equally high for the current system that records everything on camera.

Electronic design article: Lip-Reading Technology Knows What You Said

Wikipedia article on the use of surveillance cameras around the world: Closed-circuit television

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