Privacy SOS

Facial recognition enabled binoculars

I recently wrote about how the FBI is expanding its face recognition programs and working with state and local law enforcement to help develop their biometric monitoring capabilities.

While doing research for that blog I came upon an interesting piece of technology, developed with the help of federal grant monies.

In 2010, the National Institute of Justice gave a company called StereoVision Imaging, Inc. $908,351 to develop "Image Stabilized Binoculars With Integrated 3-D Facial Recognition Imaging Capabilities."

The manufacturer helpfully provides a video and description of the technology on its website. The narrator on the video clip reads:

Conducting surveillance?
Your subject is over 100 yards away so he can't detect you. But can you positively identify him?
You have an unfair advantage; you're using SVI's 3DMobileID binoculars.
"Just give me a heads on look. Gotcha!"
Shadows and haze? Challenging. Long distance identification? Almost impossible.
But with SVI's 3D binoculars? A positive ID; priceless.
Technologies like these make it possible for government agents to not only surreptitiously monitor you from a distance, but also to identify you using face recognition technology that is actually built in to the binoculars.
The company describes its product:
StereoVision Imaging, Inc. offers a complete end-to-end 3DMobileID™ solution to law enforcement applications filling a security gap in today’s surveillance operations in areas of public safety and national security. With this mobile surveillance and on-demand identification capability, specific threats can be discretely removed using affordable state of the art technology.
SVI’s patented wireless hand-held man portable 3D FRT Binoculars bundled with SVI’s 3DCapture™ SDK allows end users the ability to have ‘persons of interest’ under surveillance via the ubiquitous binocular and perform a facial identification, upon demand, in real time at extended ranges under daylight conditions.
The next step after database-linked binoculars? Contact lenses or glasses with built in face recognition technology. No joke. In ten or twenty years, you may never know that a cop is running your entire life history before his eyes when he looks at you.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.