Everyday it seems we get closer to the world that science fiction movies foreshadowed. From Robocop to the Terminator, we have watched both super cops and villains get detailed, digital information about their surroundings - channeled to them directly through their sight.
In a world where it's an every day occurrence for dangerous criminals to hide in the open because regular citizens simply don't recognize them, the technology to identify "the wanted" at a glance has just arrived. On Monday, the Dubai police announced that all their patrol officers will soon be equipped with Google Glass.
If you are not familiar, Google Glass (pictured above) is a hands-free wearable device with a tiny computer screen mounted in the corner of an eyeglass frame. It is capable of taking photos recording videos, and playing sound.
Though all of those uses could provide advantages to police officers in terms of evidence, proof of procedure, and eye witness accounts, they were not the impetus for the Dubai police department to order Glass. Their plan is far more sophisticated. And at $1500 dollars a pair, it should be.
"Glass" as it has come to be known isn't going to give officers night vision, or even let them see details at greater distances, but it will provide them with substantial information well-beyond the naked eye.
The Dubai police department explained that they had new software designed specifically for Google Glass that will enable its officers to connect with a database of wanted criminals. Through facial recognition technology, officers who come across known crooks will be alerted through their eyepiece screen in real-time.
Before they roll out the slick facial recognition software to the force, the Dubai police department will first dip their toe in the pool with a Glass pilot phase where officers will wear it to track traffic violations and look for offending vehicles. If such tests prove successful, the department will upload the identification software to officer devices. And if the software's even close to being as Facebook's, criminals had better watch out!
If the thought of every single police officer recognizing him on sight isn't enough to deter a felon from visiting the City of Gold - maybe this will. Aside from soon receiving their expensive Google Glass gadgets, patrol officers use super-cars as pursuit vehicles.
If you are thinking high-end Nissans, Acuras, or even Corvettes you're way off. Instead, law breakers are pursued by million-dollar Bugati Veyrons, 350K Lamborghini Aventadors, Ferrari's, McLarens and beyond.
What's that? You actually need to see a million dollar police supercar to believe it? Okay, here you go (and a video, to boot):
If you learned anything, visiting Dubai with any sort of warrant for criminal activity is a bad idea. I mean, not only will they spot you quickly, you have no chance of outrunning them.
But getting back to the idea of facial recognition, is this just another giant step toward's George Orwells' concept of "Big Brother"? Sure, Dubai is all the way across the ocean, but we have to assume that if you know about it - so do local police forces.
If they see Dubai police having great success with Google Glass, chances are at some point you'll see it around your neck of the woods soon enough. And when you do, how will you feel about law enforcement officials (and whoever else) knowing more about you as you walk by (even if you're not a criminal) than you might be comfortable with.
What's next - perfect strangers coming up to you, knowing the name of your dog and children? Looks like George Orwell might have been dead on with everything but the date.