Japan's AI-powered CCTV cameras catch shoplifters in the act

They analyse your "suspicious" body language and alert shopkeepers through an app.

Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset

Move over, China. Japan's AI-powered CCTV cameras are making a splash in automated surveillance.

"AI Guardman" is an automated security camera designed to catch potential shoplifters in the act. Developed by Japanese telecom company NTT East and tech startup Earth Eyes, the cameras have already reduced shoplifting by up to 40 percent in stores that participated in a trial run, according to Sora News24.

The camera uses open source technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University to analyse shoppers' body language. If that behaviour matches predefined suspicious behaviour, an alert will be sent to the shopkeeper's phone via an app, along with a photo of the suspect and their location.

AI Guardman has been in development over the past few years and last month saw trials in major retailers including electronics store Bic Camera, drugstore Kirindo and sports store Xebio, according to Sora News24. This is AI Guardman in action:

China currently has the AI-powered CCTV crown, with the government turning to technology to monitor its 1.4 billion citizens and give them a personal score based on their behaviour by 2020. CCTV cameras with facial recognition are even used for spying on jaywalkers, with offenders receiving an SMS message containing their fine.