This NewScientistTech article looks a iAPLS system: an augmented reality application for iPhone which helps the police track suspects. From the article: “PICTURE the scene: armed police officers are warned on their radios that a suspected male terrorist has been tracked to a crowded football stadium. Even with a full description, it’s all but impossible to pick him out amid the match-day melee. Perhaps smartphones fed augmented reality (AR) data by the police control centre could help focus the search.
After booting up an iPhone app, an officer would train the phone’s camera on the crowd. The suspect’s position, after he had been tracked by covert police, would be highlighted by an icon overlaid on the image. Similarly, other icons could pinpoint the positions and range of other officers (see picture), including those operating undercover.
The system, called iAPLS, has been developed by engineers at Frequentis, a surveillance-systems company based in Vienna, Austria. It is a mobile extension of the firm’s Automatic Personal Location System, which shows the location of officers on control-room screens using GPS signals sent by their radios. If a suspect has a cellphone that police have a fix on, or they are being closely followed by a covert officer, they too can be tracked. Officers can also use their phone to “tag” the location of a suspect package to make it visible to fellow law enforcers.
What Frequentis engineer Reinard van Loo and his colleagues have done is package APLS data so that it can be sent via a regular 3G link to a standard iPhone, making location information available to all officers on duty, not just those in the control room.
The extra data that this kind of AR app will provide could be a double-edged sword, warns David Sloggett, a security researcher at the University of Reading, UK. “Terrorists have been very good at turning our own technology against us. The Mumbai attacks [in India in 2008]¹ were meticulously planned on Google Earth, for instance. If terrorists get hold of police location data on mobile phones it could be disastrous.”
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