K.I.T.T.’s Facial Recognition Mode: Science Fact?

Discover Magazine has an interesting article on one of K.I.T.T.’s new features in their Science Not Fiction blogs: Facial Recognition.

“In Knight Rider, our resident crime fighters rely pretty heavily on K.I.T.T.’s ability to find people. He accesses a government database — usually the DMV — and then connects to various surveillance cameras in the area… what’s really amazing here is K.I.T.T.’s ability to digitally match photos to a moving image. For modern law enforcement and software search companies, that’s something of a holy grail.”

It goes on to talk about the applications of the technology in the real world, and the problems that have been encountered with it so far: Tampa police tried to use it in 2001 to monitor areas with a buzzing night life, and in 2002, security in Boston’s Logan airport tried to use it. In both cases, the recognition rate was so poor, they decided to scrap the systems. Manchester Airport in England is testing the system and it not only fails to make the best matches, but if two people walk through the scanner together, it will only notice the first one. Not quite at Knight Industries’ standards just yet.

They claim that breakthroughs are just around the corner. “In 2006, computer scientists competing in the Face Recognition Grand Challenge discovered that their algorithms were so good that, under ideal conditions, they could pick out faces better than even people do. The software works so well that it can ID faces turned as much as 90 degrees. What K.I.T.T. has mastered, and what we’re still working on, is applying that technology here in the real world with imperfect light, moving targets, and the evasions of people who maybe don’t want to be recognized. Seems like we’ll get there sooner or later.”

Discover Magazine: Knight Rider – Face Recognition

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