Is the average security guard going to notice? Probably not. A good example, then—if a fictional one—of why many people would like to develop intelligent computerised surveillance systems. The perceived need for such systems is stimulating the development of devices that can both recognise people and objects and also detect suspicious behaviour. Much of this technology remains, for the moment, in laboratories.
But Charles Cohen, the boss of Cybernet Systems, a firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is working for America's Army Research Laboratory, says behaviour-recognition systems are getting good, and are already deployed at some security checkpoints. Human gaits, for example, can provide a lot of information about people's intentions. At the American Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, a team of gait analysts and psychologists led by Frank Morelli study video, much of it conveniently posted on the internet by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They use special object-recognition software to lock onto particular features of a video recording a person's knees or elbow joints, for example and follow them around. Correlating those movements with consequences, such as the throwing of a bomb, allows them to develop computer models that link posture and consequence reasonably reliably. The system can, for example, pick out a person in a crowd who is carrying a concealed package with the weight of a large explosives belt.
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According to Mr Morelli, the army plans to deploy the system at military checkpoints, on vehicles and at embassy perimeters. Some intelligent surveillance systems are able to go beyond even this. Instead of merely learning what a threat looks like, they can learn the context in which behaviour is probably threatening. That people linger in places such as bus stops, for example, is normal.
Loitering in a stairwell, however, is a rarer occurrence that may warrant examination by human security staff so impatient lovers beware.
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James Davis, a video-security expert at Ohio State University in Columbus, says such systems are already in use. It uses a network of cameras to track people identified as suspicious—for example, pedestrians who have left a package on the ground—as they walk through town. As object- and motion-recognition technology improves, researchers are starting to focus on facial expressions and what they can reveal.
Many flash for less than a tenth of a second and involve just a small portion of the face. Terrorists are often trained to conceal emotions; micro-expressions, however, are largely involuntary. Even better, from the researchers' point of view, conscious attempts to suppress facial expressions actually accentuate micro-expressions. There are about 40 micro-expressions.
The DHS's officials refuse to describe them in detail, which is a bit daft, as they have been studied for years by civilian researchers. But Paul Ekman, who was one of those researchers he retired from the University of California, San Francisco, in and who now advises the DHS and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and elsewhere, points out that signals which seem to reveal hostile intent change with context.
If many travellers in an airport-screening line are running late, telltales of anguish—raised cheeks and eyebrows, lowered lips and gaze—cause less concern. Supporters of this sort of technology argue that it avoids controversial racial profiling: only behaviour is studied.
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This is a sticky issue, however, because cultures—and races—express themselves differently. Judee Burgoon, an expert on automated behaviour-recognition at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who conducts research for America's Department of Defence, says systems should be improved with cultural input.
For example, passengers from repressive countries, who may already be under suspicion because of their origins, typically display extra anxiety often revealed by rigid body movements when near security officials. That could result in a lot of false positives and consequent ill-will. Dr Burgoon is upgrading her software, called Agent 99, by fine-tuning the interpretations of body movements of people from about 15 cultures.
An array of sensors, at a distance of a couple of metres, measures skin temperature, blood-flow patterns, perspiration, and heart and breathing rates.
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The trial's organisers are unwilling to go into detail, and are now playing down the significance of the testing statistics. The car was abandoned, but a run of the plates reveals that the car was leased to a Jason Hollings.
Models, but he denies being behind the wheel when Steve was struck by the Mercedes. The car proves more helpful, yielding Steve's brain matter on the grille, a sticky substance on the door, and a pair of women's underwear. Natalia Boa Vista is thrown when her abusive ex-husband, Nick Townsend, shows up at the lab, intent on applying for a job as a body hauler. She tries to send him away, but he reminds her that her restraining order has expired. Natalia confides in Calleigh that she's terrified of Nick, and that she'd like to kill him.
She admits to sleeping with Steve, but insists she had nothing to do with his death and asks the CSIs not to tell her business partner, Janet Sterling, that she and Steve were involved. In the AV lab, Dan Cooper examines Steve's cell phone and discovers the camera button was stuck and snapped several shots, which reveal that a truck carrying exotic animals was in front of Jason's car when Steve was struck.
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Delko and Ryan question Janet Sterling about Steve, and she tells them that she knew about his relationship with Abby. She also mentions that Steve recently worked with a tiger and was bitten by it. The tiger was destroyed and the trainer took it hard. Steve sued the company, providing motive, but it turns out to be a dead end when the CSIs learn Steve and the trainer split the money from the lawsuit. Calleigh and Ryan determine Steve's body was dumped at Biscayne Bay reef, and they notice blood on the coral around the reef.
Calleigh examines Jason's feet, and discovers cuts all over them.
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They have their culprit: jealous of the jobs Steve was getting through Abby, Jason decided to take out the competition. Horatio has bad news for Natalia: her ex, Nick, has taken out a restraining order against her. Natalia is rattled, but she's soon distracted by more bad news: the body of another model, Cody Lane, has been discovered outside a posh hotel. The UV camera reveals hand mark bruising on his body indicating he was pushed, while lipstick marks on his neck provide them with DNA.
The sample leads them to Janet Sterling. She admits she was sleeping with the model, but left him in the hotel room alive. Delko and Natalia go to sweep the room, but Nick, who has just been hired as a crime scene cleaner, arrives and the temporary restraining order forces Natalia to leave the hotel room. Nick finally agrees to lift the restraining order if Natalia will put their past behind them and be civil to him. She reluctantly agrees.