'A new patent application filed by Amazon could enable the kind of dystopian face tracking envisioned in the movies and sci-fi books, where thousands of cameras are linked to track one person as they move through a city. The patent application, published last week, shows that instead of listening to widespread concern about its sale of face surveillance product Rekognition to law enforcement, Amazon is working hard behind the scenes to seamlessly integrate face tracking into networked surveillance systems, making the tracking more effective for law enforcement—and therefore more threatening to civil rights and civil liberties.
The patent application describes a method for “Generating Composite Facial Images Using Audio/Video Recording and Communication Devices.” According to the company, this artificial intelligence system receives video recordings from two sources, identifies the persons in the scene, recognizes if they are the same person, and then alerts the user that a person was identified. Put simply, this new method enables the blending of footage from various cameras, applying artificial intelligence to identify persons that could not be otherwise determined by only one of them.
In its application, Amazon explains that sometimes two or more video recording devices “each capture partial facial images (e.g., from different angles and/or vantage points) of the same person.” These “partial facial images can be of limited value in identifying the persons in the images, due to the lack of a complete picture of the person’s face in any one image.” To address this, it would be “advantageous” (Amazon’s phrasing) if the partial facial images “could be combined to form a composite image that shows the entire face (or at least a more complete face) of a person captured in multiple images.”
The problem the patented technology aims to solve is that existing facial surveillance systems “do not provide the ability to identify image data including partial facial images from two or more cameras, or to determine that the partial facial images are of the same person.” The company’s invention purports to “solve this problem by enabling image data from multiple recording and communication devices to be analyzed so that partial facial images of a same person can be identified.” By combining partial facial images, “the identity of the person in the partial facial images can be more effectively determined,” the patent application states.'
Read more: Amazon doubles down on face surveillance, files patent for scary new tech
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