Big Brother tech from Big Blue

Smart Surveillance Systems (S3) from IBM

The Smart Surveillance System (S3) from IBM integrates video search with real-time analysis.

Previously used in testing by governments, law enforcement and businesses, IBM announced Tuesday that the S3 is now available to the public. The S3 can be used to search through hours of stored surveillance video for a specific object or action, or be set to notice when that item appears on the screen.

"One of the coolest things is that it allows you to describe what's interesting. One of the biggest problems with surveillance is that 99 percent of it is boring," said Charles Palmer, chief technology officer of Security and Privacy, IBM Research.

If, for example, there were cameras monitoring the highways and streets of Washington, D.C., you could say: show me all the white vans heading east in D.C. going 10 miles above the speed limit. The S3 could then pull that data from all the video from all the cameras in the system, or show you live where that was happening, said Palmer.

Aside from being used for spying on each other, the S3 can also be used to spy on animals. For one group tracking moose migration, IBM set the S3 to detect when moose crossed over into a certain area. The system could tell the difference between moose and antlered deer.

(Photo: Gregory Adam Marton/Wikipedia)

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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