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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 12:07

Chinese invent “Terror Cam”

Written by Nick Farrell



Mounted on a clown’s head, looking for murderers

Scientists at China's Southwest University in Chongqing have developed a camera which can detect the face of highly stressed individuals so that police can catch them before they commit a crime. Inappropriately dubbed “terror cam,” which sounds like a 1980’s slasher film, the camera makes use of hyperspectral imaging, ithat measures the amount of oxygen in blood across visible areas of the body, such as the face.

The Chinese are concerned about a recent spate of deadly attacks occurring in public places, such as the mass stabbing attack by eight knife-wielding extremists in the city of Kunming, Yunnan in March, which left 29 civilians dead and over 140 others injured. Chen Tong, an associate professor of electronic information engineering at Southwest University leading the research told South China Morning Post that the mental stress of the attackers must have been extremely high before they launched their attacks.

"The higher the mental stress, the higher the blood oxygenation. Our technology can detect such people, so law enforcement officers can take precautions and prevent these tragedies."

What the Chinese are hoping is that police officers could monitor crowds using these mini-camera devices, which would show a "stress bar" above each person's head, with stressed people highlighted with red faces, so the police can pick them out of the crowd more easily.

Chen has worked out a way to tell the difference between high-oxygen levels in the blood caused by physical exertion and that caused by stress. Otherwise, the coppers would be jumping on fat people jogging. However, the technology still requires a great deal of computing power that cannot be fit into a handheld device, so the data collected by the police would have to be sent over Wi-Fi to analysts off-site, and the results sent back, before action could be taken.

The downside is that if you are having a bad day, you could be arrested for suspicion of terrorism and really have a downer.

Nick Farrell

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