Now Big Brother is Watching You EVEN IN THE DARK

© Jung Yeon-je / Reuters
© Jung Yeon-je / Reuters

© Jung Yeon-je / Reuters

I am sure many, if not all of you are familiar with George Orwell’s book, “1984”, and the depths of secrecy and invasion of privacy that the government in it sinks to in an effort to control the lives of its citizens. Well don’t look now, but thanks to an enterprising group of German engineers that moment is getting closer.

The Group of German researchers has developed a new way that will allow governments to identify it’s citizens even in total darkness. This new method will potentially solve one the biggest issue of tracking someone remotely in a crowd based on facial recognition systems.

The researchers have developed new software that allows a person to be picked out of a crowd even at night when traditional software systems have failed. While this is a major achievement for the group and a great help to security services looking for terrorists and criminals, it also has the potential for massive abuse on keeping track of people that oppose their current leaders and those that associate with them.

The new system locks in on a person’s thermal signature instead of relying on traditional methods. As part of the testing process, Saquib Sarfraz and Rainer Stiefelhagen, the inventors of the system that analyses infrared images and matches them with the ordinary photos thus allowing the people’s faces to be recognized.

While the system is not yet foolproof because of several variables including the environment temperature, temperature of the skin, person’s activity level or even a change of expression. Besides, the images taken by infrared cameras usually have much lower resolution than normal photos. All these factors make the matching of two types of images a challenging task.

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The new system requires special cameras and a new type of neural based computer system to achieve its goal. It also requires several images of the subject to be on file in order to make a match. But while such systems are in their infancy, it is expected to increase dramatically in the next few years.

Currently the accuracy of the new system is about 80% in cases where the system has many visible light images in its database to compare to the thermal image. With only one visible image available, the accuracy of the system falls to 55%. Welcome to the world of big brother watching you, and you, and you, and you….


©2015 R.L. Grimes

About the Author

Richard is a freelance Journalist, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. After his discharge he worked in Law Enforcement and Corrections for several years and was a member of SWAT before earning a degree in Computer Science. He was a consultant to government agencies including DEA, FBI, NRC, DOD and NASA. In the 90's he received a Business Management Degree and became a Consulting Analyst to several Fortune 100 companies. Later he taught G.E.D at Florida State Prison. He is married and has several grandchildren and great grandchildren. You can follow Richard on