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Moscow cops may get AR-goggles with automatic facial recognition

Moscow cops may get AR-goggles with automatic facial recognition
The Moscow police may get a tool similar to what their Chinese counterparts have tested – augmented reality goggles that help officers identify people by matching them against a central database.

A wearable device with facial recognition allows an officer to identify suspects on the wanted list by comparing people they interact with against a list of fugitives. If there is a match, the glasses will simply mark the person he should check for ID. Chinese police patrolling the Zhengzhou East high-speed rail station in the Henan province got their gadgets last year for a pilot project. It’s not yet clear if or when the law enforcement in Moscow will get their version, but work on the technology is underway, the mayor’s office confirmed to the RBC news website.

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According to the report, the Russian capital considers expanding on its cooperation with a firm called Ntechlab, the developer of the FindFace facial recognition technology. Their algorithm is already analyzing footage from some 1,500 CCTV cameras installed in Moscow. Most famously their facial recognition system was used during the FIFA World Cup to boost security and helped initiate over 100 arrests – although about half of those detained were football fans banned from events over records of hooliganism.

The wearable gadget, which Ntechlab is installing its software in, is produced by the Japanese electronics giant Epson. Their AR headset is powered by an Android OS and running FindFace was shown earlier this week at a security technology forum in Moscow. The forum was a closed industry event however and the first public demonstration of the solution is promised in October.

Ntechlab offers its algorithm not only for public safety but also as a corporate security tool, identifying employees for access. It is also working on software, which translates visual data from surveillance cameras into data sets of biometrics and movements – a trick that allows archiving far smaller amounts of data that is nevertheless useful for crime detection and other purposes.

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However, the firm has had a bit of a PR setback. For some time it offered a service which used FindFace algorithm to comb through public photos on social media to find a match for a photo uploaded by the user. As one would imagine, nastier-minded users found ways to abuse the doxing potential for all kinds of harassment, so last year Ntechlab announced it will be shutting down the service.

It was somewhat of a sacrifice financially – the site of the service had over 700,000 daily hits by that time. But Ntechlab was apparently not too concerned, since shortly before the shutdown it found a lucrative investor in Rostec, the Russian state-owned tech conglomerate involved in numerous defense and security projects. Rostec now owns 12.5 percent of the firm.

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