Massimo Piccardi of the University of Technology, Sydney and colleagues are working on a computer surveillance system that might one-day tell the difference between a suspicious abandoned suitcase whose owner has left the building and a suitcase whose owner is queuing for coffee two metres away.
“We [will] just track them while they are walking and track the relationship with these objects that they carry,” Piccardi says. “And we will raise an alarm only if the object is being left and the original carrier has left the area nearby.”
Tracking people using surveillance cameras is a challenge and currently only works when the area under surveillance is not crowded.
Piccardi also plans to catalogue certain objects that are likely to be safe, like abandoned courtesy wheelchairs and trolleys at airports. “But if someone is leaving a suitcase on a wheelchair then that suitcase can be as dangerous as a suitcase left on the floor,” he says.
The system would use geometry, colours and contrast to confirm whether the wheelchair was indeed empty and if there was any doubt, security would be alerted.
The amount of time that elapses before an abandoned object alerts security staff can be set by the users. For example while a luggage abandoned for 5 minutes might be fine in an airport, the system might trigger an alert after 30 seconds if a car is abandoned outside an embassy.
Via ABC news.