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Advanced pedestrian detection is here. It is very useful and makes me nervous

Erika Morphy | Aug. 31, 2015
Research on pedestrian detection has some scary implications

"In particular, detection is disappointing at low resolutions and for partially occluded pedestrians," the Caltech paper concluded.

 Google's research in this area suggests that it could address these and other issues with the current modes of measuring pedestrian traffic, at least when videos are used.

The privacy factor

But as this happens, privacy is going to be an issue, as other technologies currently being applied to this issue suggest.

 John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is trying out a new system that uses passengers' mobile phones to get a sense of how long people are taking to go through the security and other lines.

It uses technology developed by Denmark's Blip Systems.

According to Giz Mag, which picked up the story first:

The technology utilizes beacon modules that detect the Wi-fi or Bluetooth signal of passing mobile devices which are in "discoverable" mode. When a device is discovered, the system records, encrypts and time-stamps its MAC address — this is an ID that’s unique to that mobile device. None of the user’s personal data is accessed or recorded.

When that same phone or tablet is re-identified by other beacons farther down the same queue, the system analyzes how long it took to get from one beacon to the other. It then extrapolates how fast it will take someone to get through the line, and displays that information on a nearby screen.

"Yeah right," was, essentially, commenters' response to this story and Gizmodo's report of the technology as well.

A sampling:

LOL "None of the user’s personal data is accessed or recorded." - this is an airport - if they were not recording this, they would be criminally negligent at their job. Imagine the uproar if an attack happened, but they'd used BLE MAC's for wait queues, and not bothered to use SS7 etc to ID you, grab your texts, data, and calls - which all essentially use the exact same bit of $200 hardware to do?

I’m thinking that the TSA can now produce a nice list that correlates your passport or other identification given at the security gate with your Mac address. What they do with that list after the fact is anyone’s guess. It just means they don’t have to go after Verizon, AT&T, T-Mo and Sprint for that info.

"Tireless Eyes"

Even Hemsoth's excellent review of what Google is doing raised eyebrows among the readers. NextBigFuture reposted the article.

Said one commenter:

Going to need something like this, to process all the data coming in from new operating systems turning all our connected hardware into Orwellian "telescreens." Lack of enough eyes, especially loyal, tireless ones, has always been the chief obstacle to panopticon surveillance.

 

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