Drones get sightline tracking, facial recognition tech

Privacy-protected video and geopositioning data from multiple drones can be live-streamed between field agents and command centers, thanks to a partnership between three IT firms.

The solution combines drone manufacturer SICdrone, CrowdOptic, an enterprise software firm, and Suspect Technologies, a builder of public surveillance and identity verification products. It leverages CrowdOptics’ platform that streams video and analyzes sensor data from mobile devices and Internet of Things devices. The company’s “focal clustering technology” calculates and analyzes location data from video taken from smartphones, drone cameras or Google Glass.

The technology is integrated with FieldApp, CrowdOptic’s public-facing Android app that lets smartphone users triangulate on an area of interest and broadcast its GPS location in real time to a web-based command center with live video verification.

The partnership with SICdrone is putting that app into drones so that users in the military, law enforcement, firefighters, public safety and first responders can better coordinate their unmanned aerial systems.

According to CrowdOptic executives, FieldApp directs drones by coordinating lines of sight data from multiple devices, like mobile phones or other drones. Devices running the FieldApp software connect to CrowdOptic servers in the cloud to stream GPS location and video, according to the description on the Google Play store. After identifying where the device is aiming, the cloud servers run cluster detection algorithms to produce a live view of the focus areas on an interactive map. Essentially, this allows drone operators to better identify and confirm objects and areas of interest so they can track and direct their assets on the ground and in the air.

The mobile app prototype was initially announced through a partnership between CrowdOptic and SOFWERX, an institute designed to facilitate communication between the technology community and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Along with incorporating CrowdOptic’s capabilities into its drones, SICdrone added facial recognition and obfuscation software from Suspect Technologies.

The facial blur technology lets agencies identify certain people while respecting the privacy of others. This is a commonly requested feature from government clients and addresses the issues surrounding video redaction, CrowdOptic executives told GCN.

CrowdOptic’s understanding is that after testing, USSOCOM intends to provide this as a non-classified system to field operatives and governmental allies for tracking targets of interest.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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