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Air Force wants to get in your face with 3-D tracking

Camera would create 'bio-signature' of a target, including unique facial movements

In the latest effort to more accurately pinpoint a suspect’s identity and location, the U.S. Air Force has decided that there may be something to the phrase “Your face looks familiar.”

The Air Force recently awarded a contract to Alabama-based company Photon-X to develop a camera that can create a 3-D image of a person’s face with a single still image. An overview of the contract can be found here. It’s pretty long — you’ll want to search for “Photon-X” in the document.

Combining infrared and visible light, the software will be able to create a sort of bio-signature with a few more frames of video. It will log a particular face’s unique muscle motions and use that to identify the person with even more accuracy.

So, say you are a wanted terrorist. You can try to hide by dyeing your hair, or putting on sunglasses or even covering most of your face. If one of these cameras spots you, it will still be able to identify you by that little twitch your left eye makes when you become too pleased with yourself and your disguise.

Although I am admittedly excited by the coolness of this technology, I am also a little scared of its potential misuse. Sure, the military using it to track down bad guys is one thing, but if it works well enough, banks, casinos and, heck, even office buildings might get them installed. Those smart cameras might be watching from anywhere. And given that this is an Air Force contract, is it out of the question that they might be installed in airplanes or even satellites?

To take a grounded adventure, your next Vegas vacation might be more heavily scrutinized than it is already. And even more disturbing — a computer will be able to tell who the Wayne Newton impersonators are, and who is the real deal. Look out, Wayne!

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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