Emotion reading technology claims to spot criminals before they act

Emotion reading technology claims to spot criminals before they act

NTechLabs has created emotion recognition software that could be added to CCTV cameras

By Cara McGoogan 10 MAY 2017 • 6:08PM

Emotion reading technology could soon be used by police after a Russian firm created a tool that can identify people in a crowd and tell if they are angry, stressed or nervous.

The software, created by NTechLab, can monitor citizens for suspicious behaviour by tracking identity, age, gender and current emotional state. It could be used to pre-emptively stop criminals and potential terrorists.

"The recognition gives a new level of security in the street because in a couple of seconds you can identify terrorists or criminals or killers," said Alexander Kabakov, NTechLab chief executive.

The emotion recognition tool is a new part of NTechLab's facial recognition software, which made the headlines last year when it was used to power the FindFace app that can track down anyone on Russian social network VKontakte from a photo.

The identification app claims to have reconnected long-lost friends and family members, as well as helped police solve two cold cases and identify criminals.

Adding the emotion element, which has an accuracy rate of more than 94 per cent according to the company, could give the software real-time crime fighting capabilities.

NTechLab retains an aura of secrecy around its clients, which include security firms and retail businesses. But it is reportedly working with Moscow city government to add the recognition software to the capital's 150,000 CCTV cameras. 

The company refused to comment on where the technology is being applied. "The use case mentioned is generally for CCTV cameras and there's nothing confirmed with Moscow," it said.

Kabakov said he doesn't see any privacy problems resulting from the technology as it will be added to existing security systems and cameras.

"If the street didn't have cameras I could understand people might have some concerns, but now on every street you have cameras," he said. "If you're in a public space, you have no privacy."

He added that the expectation of privacy has disappeared with the advent of smartphones. "Now, with smartphones, we don't have privacy because phones know so much about you, including your behaviour and location," he said.

NTechLab also announced that it has raised $1.5 million (£1.2m), which it will use for research and development. It hopes to create more real world and cloud applications for the facial and emotion recognition software.

The Moscow-based NTechLab has more than 2,000 customers in countries including the UK, US, Australia, China and India.

It isn't the only company to have created such technology, but it has won two university awards for accurate face and emotion recognition, beating competition from the likes of Google and Facebook. Most recently it won the University of Ohio's EmotionNet challenge.


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