Junkfood Science: The ultimate surveillance

July 25, 2008

The ultimate surveillance

The technology is here, but how far will public health and safety monitoring go? As part of a graduate project at the Design Products Department of the Royal College of Art in London, graduate engineer Benjamin Males has created a surveillance device called the Static Obesity Logging device. It is a concealed camera with an integrated computer, and analog inputs and outputs, that can remotely calculate BMI (body mass index) of people who walk by and publish the data via wired and wireless networks.

It can be installed anywhere and is housed in a nondescript casing. As he says on his website: “The purpose of this device is to raise questions about the possible role of surveillance technology in healthcare, and the potential uses (misuses?) of this data by others.”

A companion device he created for his graduate project was the Racial Targeting System. He writes:

It is a fully portable real-time image-processing platform that has the ability to automatically find and follow faces and then analyse and store their race data. The device is a reaction to research on the Police’s use of stop and search powers since 2000 and the use of CCTV and face recognition software. The device exists to critique and raise questions about legislation and the use of surveillance on the public.

These projects, that profile people based on physical characteristics, were to urge people to question and debate the growing Big Brother society and the effects on civil liberties.

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