ComputerVision has long been of interest to and utilized by the United States government and armed forces, but now it appears as though the army is using this technology to help transform soldiers into expert marksmen.
Tracking Point, a Texas-based startup that specializes in making precision-guided firearms, sold a number of “scope and trigger” kits for use on XM 2010 sniper rifles. The technology allows a shooter to pinpoint and “tag” a target, then use object-tracking technology, combined with a variety of variables (temperature, distance, etc.), to determine the most effective place to fire. The trigger is then locked until the person controlling the weapon has lined up the shot correctly, at which point he or she can pull the trigger.
To learn more about this technology and how it is implemented, watch the following video:
While there is a lot of talk about the ways computer vision can save lives, in some instances, it is already doing just that.
Last month, a computer vision drowning detection system, known as Poseidon, saved a man in Australia from drowning after an epileptic seizure caused him to sink to the bottom of a pool.
And he wasn’t the first, either. In total, 25 people were saved as a result of this system being implemented in pools.
Currently, Poseidon is in more than 220 pools across America, Europe, Japan, and now Australia.
According to the company, “the Poseidon system is based on a network of overhead or underwater cameras connected to a computer equipped with the Poseidon software [that] analyzes the trajectories of the swimmers and sends an alert to lifegards when a swimmer is in trouble.”
As we enter 2013, prognostications abound regarding object recognition technology and its likely impact on the economy, jobs and the human condition.
Some paint a grim picture of human obsolescence and slow growth. Others, a Utopian image of humans and machines extending each other’s capabilities that unlocks new economic vistas for the benefit of all.
In the less sanguine camp is Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman who takes issue with the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) seemingly pat assumption that long term growth will occur at about the same rates we’ve seen for the past few decades.
On the more optimistic side is Bianca Bosker, Executive Tech Editor for the Huffington Post. She does a masterful job synthesizing a wide array of sources to make a balanced case.
Writing in the New York Times, Krugman points to Robert Gordon of Northwestern University and his contention that the age of growth that began in the late 1700s may be drawing to a close. He sees Gordon’s reasoning as a useful basis for doubting the CBO’s projections, however, Krugman does not agree with Gordon.
Gordon contends that growth has occurred unevenly owing to several discrete industrial revolutions that took us to the next level of major growth. The first was the steam engine. The second was the internal combustion engine, electrification and chemical engineering. The third is the information age and the Internet where smart machines are the payoff for fewer people than was the case in the second revolution.
Krugman posits that machines with ever-improving artificial intelligence and object recognition capabilities will likely fuel higher productivity and economic growth. He even states it would be “all too easy” to fear that smart machines will bring about the mass obsolescence of American workers.
If so, is Krugman saying the CBO’s long term projections are too conservative? Could this be a silver lining of sorts? He then asks the more unsettling question, “Who will benefit from this growth?”
Krugman promises in a future column to take up why the conventional wisdom underpinning long run budget projections is “all wrong.” And when he does, we should get a clearer view of his take on the roles object recognition, machine learning and human beings will play in the economy of tomorrow.
Bosker, in striking a balance between human obsolescence and human empowerment, seconds Kevin Kelly’s prediction in Wired that “robo surgeons” and “nannybots” will surely take over human jobs.
She then explores Google’s Project Glass as an example of wearable computers soon to arrive that observe and record our surroundings like an add-on brain.
Bosker quotes AI researcher Rod Furlan who speculates that Google Glass could soon help us find misplaced car keys. She predicts facial recognition will help us remember people’s names as soon as they come into view and bypass a potentially awkward encounter. And that object recognition could encourage us to skip an indulgent food we’d best not eat.