Falling statistics aside, crime is still a national epidemic.
The truth is 1.2 million of us will fall victim to a rape, robbery or murder by the end of this year.
That adds up to 3,400 new crime victims each and every day–all year long.
Yet the odds are growing daily that video cameras will catch these ultra-violent thugs in the act.
The fact is the U.S. has roughly 30 million cameras watching banks, malls, factories and city streets manned by law enforcement, federal agents, the military, homeowners and private security.
For the surveillance industry, though, that's just the beginning.
New video surveillance technology is growing by leaps and bounds with a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% a year.
In fact, ABI Research predicts the video surveillance market will grow to $41 billion by 2014.
But there's just one problem with the current approach…
We simply don't have enough people to watch all those cameras at any thing approaching real time.
Think of it as a river of information that's impossible to sort. It comes at us so fast that it's not much use when it comes to actually preventing crimes.
If only there was a way to figure out in advance what the bad guys were going to do next.
No doubt that would be huge.
"Smart" Software Finds Crooks Fast
It's called AISight and it could literally transform video security throughout the United States.
And just to drive the point home even further, the name is pronounced "eyesight." It's what's known as "smart" software since it's based on artificial intelligence, or AI.
Here's the thing. Its smart software combines computer vision with machine learning to recognize behavior. Think about that for a moment.
Not long ago AISight spotted a man who had no business hanging out with a group of school kids. What happened next will blow you away.
It all went down like this: A group of children had arrived at the state Capitol building in Austin, TX for a field trip. Like hundreds of other kids who make the trip each week, they had all been pre-screened to avoid going through security.
On this particular trip, though, something was amiss. An adult who was not a teacher entered the picture. The video picked him up trying to blend in with the group.
However, the smart software crunched through the patterns of dozens of people in the frame and recognized that he didn't fit in with the crowd. It then sent out an alert preventing a potential crime in the process.
It is no wonder San Francisco's transit agency went with AISight last March. The $2.2 million contract covers 12 train stations. No big deal, right? Think again.
Solving the math alone shows the type of challenges the BRS technology can handle. San Francisco needs all 22 cameras at each location to track 150 objects "continuously" at the same time.
And this is the part that just blows my mind…
The contract actually says the system must "process the video imagery data similar to the cognitive process" of the human brain.
No problem, BRS execs say. AISight learns much the way people do.
How does it work? The system starts with video streams from standard security cameras. Within days, it learns what is 'normal' within its field of view.
It does so by seeing and tracking subjects. It defines appearances and other details, then classifies them. AIsight then learns and can quickly recall what behavior is "normal" and what is not.
When something doesn't fit, the system sends an alert for a person to check it out.
Shades of 1984?…. Not Exactly
But let me clear up one key point. This is not "spy" software. BRS doesn't look for license plates or try to identify people's faces.
That's important because many people in this country worry about the implications of Big Brother watching them.
BRS Labs says it doesn't invade people's privacy and has clients sign statements saying they won't do so, either.
Then again, AIsight doesn't look for people; it scans for patterns of behavior.
To date, the firm has raised some $16 million in private funding, though none has so far come from venture capital. It has a number of deals in the works in the United States and Latin America.
And CEO Ray Davis has just the background I like to see at a startup.
He launched his first venture at the ripe old age of 17 and got ink in Money magazine. He has founded eight companies with at least one going public and has written 20 books on high tech.
In my mind, it's firms like BRS Labs that give us a good reason to be optimistic about America's future. This unique, cutting-edge tech was grown right here in the good old USA.
BRS has several patents to its credit. That not only gives the firm barriers to entry; it also shows that great ideas remain in our nation's DNA.
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About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.