Big Brother To Read Lips Like HAL

Britain's Home Office is reportedly pursuing lip reading technology to augment the capabilities of the millions of closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in the country.

A senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia has outlined the plan:

Computer-based lip-reading technology would help video surveillance systems spot people planning a crime or terror attack by literally watching suspects lips for clues. Once it finds someone speaking certain key words or sentences, the system would automatically send an alert message to a central console, mobile phone, or other communications device. Police or security agents could then be dispatched to the scene to question the individual.

There is no word on when such a system would be implemented. However, there is already some technology in place that performs this function.

This is an extension of the ideas contained in a previous Science Fiction in the News story (see Computerized Lip-Reading Crime Fighters for details on the project to read lips with computers). Now, the technology will be applied to all citizens, not just criminals. Science fiction fans have seen this before. In the film 2001:A Space Odyssey, the HAL 9000 computer was able to read lips.

(HAL 9000 [background] eavesdrops on astronauts Poole and Bowman)

Read more about how computers can read lips; see these stories for more about how determined Britain seems to be in bringing 1984 to life.

See also Lip-reading surveillance cameras.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/2/2007)

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