UNCW researchers perfecting futuristic crime fighting tools - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

UNCW researchers perfecting futuristic crime fighting tools

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Researchers at UNCW are working with groups like the FBI, NSA, and CIA to find real world use for their new facial recognition technology. Researchers at UNCW are working with groups like the FBI, NSA, and CIA to find real world use for their new facial recognition technology.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Researchers at UNCW are helping law enforcement find a face in a crowd. They're working with groups like the FBI, NSA, and CIA to find real world use for their new facial recognition technology.

Many of the aspects could work in a situation like the Boston Bombings.

One specific example is "MIDO" or "Multiple Image Dataset Organizer." Researchers believe it could have helped law enforcement compile the mass amount of information and images that flooded their offices soon after the terrorist attack on April 15, 2013.

From there, facial recognition technology could take effect. Everything from drones with surveillance type video that can recognize faces in crowds to technology called "continuous authentication" that could verify computer users who have access to sensitive information. Researchers are looking at many different ways their revolutionary technology could be used.

"We just use those features of the face that undergo minimal changes," Dr. Gagathri Mahalingam said. "That gives us the capability and the power to actually recognize, verify any person with any sort of transformation to their face."

Researchers are also looking at the way age affects facial recognition. Tools called AgeMe and FaceMark could help law enforcement find a suspect when all they have to go on is a photo from 10 years ago.

The software could also be used in missing persons cases, showing what a person may look like years later.

"Our approach, rather than using a starting template or using just subjective knowledge, actually takes images, millions and millions of images across the age span and learns for itself, using a statistical approach, what exactly changes over the years," Ben Barbour said. "From there we can take a starting image and produce what statistically you are likely to look like in the future."

While individual privacy is a common concern with technology that uses surveillance and facial recognition, researchers believe they are on the right track to protecting your rights.

"We're actually improving the protection privacy for innocent citizens. The idea being that the more work computers can do, the less work that an actual individual has to actually manually do," Barbour said.

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