More on Airplane Seat Cameras
I already blogged this once: an airplane-seat camera system that tries to detect terrorists before they leap up and do whatever they were planning on doing. Amazingly enough, the EU is "testing" this system:
Each camera tracks passengers' facial expressions, with the footage then analysed by software to detect developing terrorist activity or potential air rage. Six wide-angle cameras are also positioned to monitor the plane’s aisles, presumably to catch anyone standing by the cockpit door with a suspiciously crusty bread roll.
But since people never sit still on planes, the software's also designed so that footage from multiple cameras can be analysed. So, if one person continually walks from his seat to the bathroom, then several cameras can be used to track his facial movements.
The software watches for all sorts of other terrorist-like activities too, including running in the cabin, someone nervously touching their face or excessive sweating. An innocent nose scratch won't see the F16s scrambled, but a combination of several threat indicators could trigger a red alert.
This pegs the stupid meter. All it will do is false alarm. No one has any idea what sorts of facial characteristics are unique to terrorists. And how in the world are they "testing" this system without any real terrorists? In any case, what happens when the alarm goes off? How exactly is a ten-second warning going to save people?
Sure, you can invent a terrorist tactic where a system like this, assuming it actually works, saves people -- but that's the very definition of a movie-plot threat. How about we spend this money on something that's effective in more than just a few carefully chosen scenarios?
Posted on June 4, 2008 at 12:05 PM • 57 Comments