Walking the Walk

WalkGet this, the next time you’re at the airport, security cameras could be watching your every step and feeding it into a computer, from where security officials could crosscheck your gait-type with CCTV footage to spot suspected terrorists:

A database of different gaits thus created may enable security officials to recognise the gait of individuals checking in at an airport, even before they entered the concourse. The researchers say that a comparison of such data with CCTV footage may also be used to track suspect terrorists or criminals who may otherwise be disguising their features or be carrying forged documents.

What about privacy issues?

They insist that gait recognition has a significant advantage over more well-known biometrics, including fingerprinting and iris scanning, in that it is entirely unobtrusive.

It seems like a workable idea, but when you consider how many people pass through airports everyday, and how long it would take to capture the gaits of enough people to have an unbiased sample size to work with, and the accuracy of the gait recognition, you start to override the practicalities that are initially presented. [image by chilling soul]

4 thoughts on “Walking the Walk”

  1. Yes, on the one hand the privacy implications are much less chilling than usual for this sort of thing. On the other hand, it’s hard to believe it will work.

    (Also: are they really only going to use it for identifying individuals by gait, or are they planning to match behavioral profiles as well, i.e., “I’m sorry, ma’am, but the way you’re frantically running to catch your flight has triggered our behavioral model of a terrorist and we’re going to have to ask you some questions.”)

  2. Cory Doctorow dealt with this in the opening chapter of “Little Brother,” where the hero defeats gait analysis cameras by putting gravel in his shoe.

  3. @ Dave, gait recognition seems to be misleading in that regard. It would be hard to catch a terrorist in any case, because they look like normal people, I’m assuming, and you’d probably need a few other metrics to make
    a reasonable assumption.

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