|The core of an AI-powered camera is computational photography which is split into subsets of technology attempting to mimic what humans do, including machine learning, computer vision, image/face recognition, voice-to-text composition, and voice recognition / Photo by: Corona Borealis Studio via Shutterstock|
AI cameras are simply cameras that use AI programs to efficiently deal with images and videos. The core of an AI-powered camera is computational photography which is split into subsets of technology attempting to mimic what humans do, including machine learning, computer vision, image/face recognition, voice-to-text composition, and voice recognition. Last year, Google unveiled Google Clips, its first AI-powered camera. It uses machine learning to automatically photograph what it “thinks” is interesting, responding to lighting, facial expressions, and other common traits of good photos.
AI cameras are not only useful in taking photos that truly feel organic and candid but also in keeping homes safe. In 2017, Lighthouse AI introduced the Lighthouse security camera which can alert a homeowner if they see an unfamiliar face trying to enter the house at an odd hour. The camera is powered by AI, a 24-hour video feed, and up to a month of storage for footage. These devices can also be powerful tools against abuse.
Increasing Use of AI Surveillance
As AI cameras are increasingly becoming popular, cameras that function as surveillance in homes are also getting more in demand. These devices could become commonplace not only in homes but also in retailers, public spaces, government buildings, and more. The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace showed that AI surveillance technology is proliferating at a faster rate across the world. Out of 176 countries, 75 nations are actively using AI technologies for surveillance purposes.
The report also revealed that several countries are not only developing various AI surveillance technologies domestically but also exporting it to other countries. The major driver of AI surveillance globally is China. Chinese companies such as Huawei, Dahua, Hikvision, and ZTE have been supplying AI surveillance technology in 63 countries. Huawei alone is responsible for providing AI surveillance technology to at least 50 nations.
Report author Steven Feldstein, an associate professor of public affairs at Boise State University, stated that the rapid adoption of AI surveillance worldwide has been raising issues and concerns among the public. This is because of the rise of predictive police capabilities, big data platforms, and facial recognition allow governments to track and analyze individuals' behaviors. At the same time, it is used to advance political goals.
"Sadly I'm not surprised. Adoption of something this useful for security is bound to run ahead, and as is so often the case, particularly ahead of the legislation or regulation one might hope for,” Alan Woodward, a computer science professor at the University of Surrey, said.
Nonetheless, AI surveillance technologies, particularly AI cameras, are widely being used in various ways. They can be a lot of help not only in our homes but also in businesses. Feldstein stated that the toolset capabilities and combinations of these have been rapidly improving. He noted several breakthroughs that are making new achievements in the field possible, including market-driven incentives for new uses of AI technology; improved performance of complex algorithms; a new generation of advanced microchips and computer hardware; cloud computing and online data gathering, and the maturation of machine learning and the onset of deep learning.
Detecting Shoplifters Using AI Cameras
Last June, Japanese startup Vaak developed an AI software that can catch shoplifters in the act by alerting staff members. According to Bloomberg, an online site that delivers business and market news, data, analysis, and video to the world, the software uses footage from AI security cameras to detect fidgeting, restlessness, and other potentially suspicious body language. This is a critical advancement for businesses since the global retail industry had lost about $34 billion in sales in 2017 alone due to shoplifting.
CEO Ryo Tanaka stated that their team trained the system using 100,000 hours of surveillance data so it can detect suspicious activity. The cameras can identify more than 100 behavioral aspects such as hand movements, how people walk, facial expressions, and even clothing choices. Vaak reported that during a test period in local convenience stores, shoplifting losses dropped by 77%. This shows that AI cameras can help in reducing global retail costs from shoplifting.
Thus, it’s not surprising that a lot of businesses are becoming more interested in AI cameras. It is predicted that retailers will invest $200 billion in new technology this year. “If we go into many retailers whether, in the U.S. or U.K., there are very often going to be CCTV cameras or some form of cameras within the store operation. That’s being leveraged by linking it to an analytics tool, which can then do the actual analysis in a more efficient and effective way,” Thomas O’Connor, a retail analyst at Gartner, said.
|Last June, Japanese startup Vaak developed an AI software that can catch shoplifters in the act by alerting staff members / Photo by: industryviews via Shutterstock|
Retail company Walmart announced that it is using computer vision technology to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft in more than 1,000 stores. According to Business Insider, a fast-growing business site with deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals, the company is using cameras to help in identifying checkout scanning errors and failures. These devices can track and analyze activities at both registers manned by Walmart cashiers and self-checkout registers.
Walmart’s AI cameras can notify checkout attendants when a potential issue arises so they can intervene. "Over the last three years, the company has invested over half a billion dollars in an effort to prevent, reduce and deter crime in our stores and parking lots. We are continuously investing in people, programs, and technology to keep our stores and communities safe,” Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said.
Indeed, AI cameras can help not only homeowners but also retail businesses. This can significantly reduce the amount of money they lose every year due to shoplifting and also increase the sales for AI surveillance technologies.